Digital archaeology at the Cairns and Ness of Brodgar

Over the excavation seasons at The Cairns Project and the Ness of Brodgar, I’ll be spending time as the ‘on-site digital archaeologist’. That may sound like an unusual term and one of the reasons for this is that, put simply, it is an unusual thing to do.

Quite often, digital work undertaken for archaeological excavations is completed after the dig season has finished. 3D models of finds created using photogrammetry are usually made in the comfort of a warm office or lab after the finds have been categorised, labelled and wrapped up for preservation, or put on display in a museum. 3D models of trenches during an excavation season are sometimes made, however usually this is just a single model of a particular context during excavation.

Being on the excavation site for the entirety of the dig at The Cairns and Ness of Brodgar, enables the opportunity to generate some 3D models of the same trench at different phases, when different contexts are being discovered. Moreover, when a particularly interesting find is discovered, I can be there to make a 3D model just as it’s unearthed. That way, we can get some 3D models out there for everyone to view the day they are found. Recently, I made the model below of what has been termed the ‘Red Cell’. The Red Cell is a small compartment or room, just off from the centre of the broch.

I’ll be posting more models over the season which I will include in future blogs. Some models may appear on the Friends of the Cairns Facebook page and the @thecairnsbroch Twitter page, on www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk, along with the @UHIArchaeology Twitter page, all great sources for information about the Cairns and Ness projects.

I will also be trying out some interesting new techniques for photogrammetry, utilising different software packages and trying out some experimental digital archaeology, so there will be a lot to see and a lot to write about.

Posted in Digital Archaeology Blog.

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