Dig@IT: Virtual Reality in Archaeology

Project Summary

A virtual reality system to recreate the archaeological experience using data and 3D models from the neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, in Anatolia, Turkey. 

Themes and Categories
Year

Project Team

  • Emmanuel Shiferaw,ECE/CS, Duke University
  • Cheng Ma , ME/CS, Duke University
  • Regis Kopper, DiVE, Duke University
  • Maurizio Forte, AAHVS, Duke University
  • Nicola Lercari,  World Heritage, UC Merced 

Project Objectives

  • Develop archaeological VRapp containing models of real site. 
  • Allow manipulation of artifacts/”digging” within system. 

Description

  • Can view information from existing archaeological database contextually, in 3D space, for objects documented by field archaeologists.
  • Allows for measurement, analysis of artifacts and land on-site.
  • Built for Oculus and DiVE.
  • For DiVE, companion apps built for Google Glass and iPad, which dynamically display information from Catalhoyuk site database relating to feature being examined. 

Workflow

  • Digital Archaeologists capture 3D models of dig site and landscape through image-based modeling (photogrammetry), laser scanning, LIDAR, etc.
  • 3D models of site, artifacts, are imported into Unity3D game engine, where: 
    • Interactions and display are built to allow analysis and discovery within the application.
    • Application is built with Oculus Rift as head mounted-display, and Razer Hydra tracked wands as input devices. 

Download the project poster (PDF).

 

Related Projects

Nathan Liang (Psychology, Statistics), Sandra Luksic (Philosophy, Political Science),and Alexis Malone (Statistics) began their 10-week project as an open-ended exploration how women are depicted both physically and figuratively in women's magazines, seeking to consider what role magazines play in the imagined and real lives of women. Working on over 500 covers of five popular magazines from 2010-2018, the students compiled a sentiment dictionary to analyze language used about and by women in magazines.  The team also discovered whether the data actually backed up their preconceptions about magazines. For example, while the data did support a lack of diversity in magazines – 85% of cover models were white, and no Asian men were represented in any magazines – the team was surprised to see the connection between messages of feminism and empowerment with consumerism. Ideas of empowerment largely occurred within the concept of beauty, which was linked in all magazines to money, advertising, and the accumulation of products to achieve the standards of beauty being presented. These discoveries opened up further discussion, and possibly further research, into what role women’s magazines should and could play in feminism and women’s empowerment, and how marketing strategies relate to the objectives of those movements.

As Michelle Sroka (English), the graduate mentor for this group commented, working at the intersection of humanistic studies and computer science allowed her and the students to discover new approaches to collaborative research: “While I had envisioned a broad outline for the project, one of the steepest learning curves was learning how to manage the details, when I knew so little about data and research. Yet seeking to navigate the divides between the humanities and data taught both myself and my students how to become better at envisioning and articulating not only the goals and scope of a project, but also why it matters. While much of the actual research done aligned with what I had envisioned when designing the project, the conclusions reached went far beyond what I could have imagined in wonderful and important ways.”

Click here to read the Executive Summary

In tracing the publication history, geographical spread, and content of “pirated” copies of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Gabriel Guedes (Math, Global Cultural Studies), Lucian Li (Computer Science, History), and Orgil Batzaya (Math, Computer Science) explored the complications of looking at a data set that saw drastic changes over the last three centuries in terms of spelling and grammar, which offered new challenges to data cleanup. By asking questions of the effectiveness of “distant reading” techniques for comparing thousands of different editions of Robinson Crusoe, the students learned how to think about the appropriateness of myriad computational methods like doc2vec and topic modeling. Through these methods, the students started to ask, at what point does one start seeing patterns that were invisible at a human scale of reading (reading one book at a time)? While the project did not definitively answer these questions, it did provide paths for further inquiry.

The team published their results at: https://orgilbatzaya.github.io/pirating-texts-site/

This project aimed at further exploring how to better develop different methods for doing humanities based research by combining the open-ended nature of humanities projects with the methodological rigor of fields like statistics and computer science. Lucuan Li noticed the potential for finding new ways to link these methods to the humanities: “The open-endedness gave us tremendous freedom to determine our modes of analysis and which parts of the data we would use.” Orgil Batzaya found drawing links between data insights and historical facts compelling: “We looked at distributions of the concentration of publication in different countries and it was fun trying to link historical periods to peaks and troughs in publication.” Some of these links became profoundly obvious according to Gabe Guedes: “As for the final outcome, I was surprised to be able to see such a strong correlation between historical events and publication volume, to the point where you had very noticeable peaks when countries made substantial imperial forays.”

The team was directed and mentored by Grant Glass, a graduate student in the English Department at UNC-CH. Grant’s own research focuses on the question, what is a text? This project allowed Grant to begin to form the data structure for creating a new edition of Robinson Crusoe by understanding how thousands of copies are related to one another. The experience and insights took Grant by surprise: “I did not think that there was as much variance between the copies as there was. This new understanding of the text will help me describe how reading publics, publishers, and editors shape the text long after the author is gone.”

Click here for the Executive Summary

Ashley Murray (Chemistry/Math), Brian Glucksman (Global Cultural Studies), and Michelle Gao (Statistics/Economics) spent 10 weeks analyzing how meaning and use of the work “poverty” changed in presidential documents from the 1930s to the present. The students found that American presidential rhetoric about poverty has shifted in measurable ways over time. Presidential rhetoric, however, doesn’t necessarily affect policy change. As Michelle Gao explained, “The statistical methods we used provided another more quantitative way of analyzing the text. The database had around 130,000 documents, which is pretty impossible to read one by one and get all the poverty related documents by brute force. As a result, web-scraping and word filtering provided a more efficient and systematic way of extracting all the valuable information while minimizing human errors.” Through techniques such as linear regression, machine learning, and image analysis, the team effectively analyzed large swaths of textual and visual data. This approach allowed them to zero in on significant documents for closer and more in-depth analysis, paying particular attention to documents by presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Lyndon B. Johnson, both leaders in what LBJ famously called “The War on Poverty.”

The documents for analysis were provided by the American Presidency Project: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/index.php.

In addition, this project aimed at further exploring how to better develop the link between data analysis and humanistic studies. Unlike many traditional STEM projects, the open-ended nature of this humanities project freed the students to take intellectual risks and venture into uncharted territory. Brian Glucksman found this to be an important part of the experience: “The main benefit that I felt about the open-endedness of the project was that it felt like it was impossible to fail. We had the opportunity to define the exact scope of our project, so we could never fall short of anything. It was even a little bit liberating to realize we could not do all the work that could be done from the American Presidency Project.”  

Mentored by Nora Nunn, a graduate student in the English Department with no previous computational experience, the group paid close attention to narrative and storytelling over the summer. Nora’s own research is deeply grounded in political and ethical considerations, focusing on genocide in 20th-century transnational American literature and visual cultures. This project prompted her to take a fresh look at her own work: “My experience with Data+ showed me that the humanities and data science can at times form a symbiotic relationship. In fact, in light of this realization, I now view my own research—about the life of another word with political implications (genocide)—through a different lens. How do images and language connect or disconnect? And what are the political and social implications of these findings? In the case of Poverty in Writing and Images, social issues were inextricably intertwined with statistical ones. The symbiosis of algorithms and policy, social justice and big data, humanism and STEM left me with more questions than answers. For that experience, I am grateful.” Nora’s mentorship guided the students to make some of the same connections, prompting Ashley Murray to argue that the “usefulness of an algorithm is measured by how it can actually help/aid the humans utilizing it. This project’s aim was to look at social issues, which is inherently a way of helping other humans, and we are just using algorithms to do so.”

Click Here for the Executive Summary