Digital Archaeology Course- Learning about Metadata and Focal Depth

So this summer instead of excavating, I decided to take a course on Archaeology (my first in almost 5 year). I am super excited to be reading academic articles and discussing these themes with colleagues and learning new skills. We have been focusing on how to create 3D models and looking at different open source tools that allow us to take all types of measurements with the models. We have also be discussing the reasons for engaging with archaeology this way, how digital archaeology will change the field, and the responsibility behind this type of data creation.

This course is being offered by two of the directors (Laura Banducci and Rachel Opitz) from the Gabii Project and is being houses in the American Academy in Rome. This is a new course being offered by the AAR and one that I am really excited they are offering. I’ve never visited the AAR, but it is an amazing campus on the Gianicolo Hill (ancient Janiculum) with beautiful gardens and old 19th century architecture. I wished I had my pipe here since this would be the place to go lunting . Really it is a house where I should have a smoking jacket for after dinner.

The course has opened my eyes to a lot of important things in archaeology that I haven’t thought in depth about since I was a field worker. While I have always had a general idea about the management of data after I have removed an artifact from its soil matrix (i.e. fancy talk for dirt). But now I have a larger and more complete idea of what Theresa, Steve, and Eric do down in the magazzino.

While I feel I am getting a lot from the course because of my extensive time in the field, a similar course really should be a part of every archaeological student’s course work. Even if you don’t move down the path of digital archaeology, it helps you become aware of problems, solutions, and better ways of dealing with the vast amount of data points that get created each year in pottery sherds or brick stamps. This type of course would help people integrate between the field, the lab and then final database processing in a much smoother way.

I hope that the courses continue to be offered by the AAR, I’d come back and take another one given the chance.

Until next time, Ciao


About handyatmurlo

I am a Latin teacher at Regis Jesuit High School. I earned my MA at CU Boulder and my BA at UMass Amherst. I have spent my summers working in Italy as an archaeologist at three different sites. One I have worked at for 10 years at Poggio Civitate at Vescovado di Murlo. I have worked at the Villa of Maxentius in Rome for 2 years, before the project ended. I also spent 2 summers at the FSU excavations in Cosa.
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