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Study records 2,000 years of ancient graffiti in Egypt

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The production of a state-of-the-art 3D recording of the Temple of Isis in Philae, Egypt is allowing researchers from Simon Fraser University to gain further understanding of ancient graffiti and how it relates to modern graffiti.

The researchers are collaborating with the University of Ottawa and have already shared preliminary results in Egyptian Archaeology. They have now gone back to Philae to continue their work on the project.

“It’s fascinating because there are similarities with today’s graffiti,” says SFU geography professor Nick Hedley, co-investigator of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded project. “The iconic architecture of ancient Egypt was built by those in positions of power and wealth, but the graffiti records the voices and activities of everybody else. The building acts like a giant sponge or notepad for generations of people from different cultures for over 2,000 years.”

Leading the team’s visualization efforts, Hedley utilizes his expertise in spatial reality capture to document ancient graffiti and their architectural surroundings using cutting-edge techniques such as photogrammetry, laser scanning, and raking light. By recording the reality of the site in three dimensions, he aims to create an accurate representation of the temple and the graffiti it houses.

With a significant number of graffiti, some of which are barely visible and carved less than a millimetre deep into the temple’s columns, walls, and roof, achieving precision is crucial to the project’s success.

Traditionally, the graffiti would have been documented through hand-drawn sketches or photographs. However, the team’s use of advanced methods allows for a higher level of accuracy and enables researchers to study and analyse the site remotely.

According to Sabrina Higgins, a co-investigator on the project and archaeologist at SFU, photographs and two-dimensional plans fall short in capturing the dynamic, multi-layered, and evolving nature of the field site.

Hedley is taking a step beyond basic two-dimensional imaging by creating an advanced three-dimensional recording of the entire surface of the temple. This innovative technique allows for the temple’s interior and exterior, along with the graffiti, to be viewed and analysed from virtually any angle, without sacrificing detail.

The three-dimensional visualization also provides an opportunity for researchers to investigate the relationship between figural graffiti, surrounding graffiti, and their placement in relation to the temple’s architectural structure.

Although this technology is transformative in examining the temple and its inscriptions, Hedley believes that the potential for applying spatial reality capture extends beyond archaeology and could have a significant impact on various fields.

“Though my primary role in this project is to help build the definitive set of digital wall plans for the Mammisi at Philae, I’m also demonstrating how emerging spatial reality capture methods can fundamentally change how we gather and produce data and transform our ability to interpret and analyse these spaces.” says Hedley.

Simon Fraser University

Professor Nick Hedley – Image Credit : Simon Fraser University

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Archaeology

Archaeologists may have discovered the lost city of Tu’am

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Excavations in the Umm Al Quwain area of the UAE have revealed 6th century ruins that could be the lost city of Tu’am.

The ruins are situated on Al Sinniyah Island, part of a collection of small islands on the western part of the Khor Al Bidiyah peninsula.

Previous studies on the island have revealed a pearling village and monastery, which has been the focus of the latest season of excavations.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a larger settlement, with the earliest signs of occupation dating back to the 4th century AD and peaking in the 5th or 6th century.

The team uncovered traces of large semi-urbanised tenement buildings measuring 30 square metres, which are tightly packed around narrow walkways. According to the researchers, the settlement could be the lost city of Tu’am as described in Ancient Arab texts.

Tu’am was a regional capital on the Gulf coast that was famed for its pearl fishing industry and trade in precious gems.

The population went into decline following a plague and regional tensions, and subsequently was abandoned. Mass graves in the vicinity support the historical account of plague, as the skeletal remains show no evidence of trauma or a violent death.

“Our archaeological work has discovered the largest settlement by far ever found on the Gulf coast of the Emirates,” said Prof Tim Power of UAE University.

“And it’s exactly the right period for the city described in the early Islamic geographical sources. It’s clearly a really important place. No one has ever found it.”

Professor Power explained that while they have not found irrefutable evidence (such as an inscription bearing the town’s name), no other major settlements from this period have been discovered on the coast, strengthening the argument that the settlement is Tu’am. “It’s a process of elimination,” he explained.

Header Image Credit : Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology

Sources : NUAE

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

New findings in North America’s first city

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Cahokia was the largest urban settlement of the Mississippian culture, a mound-building pre-Columbian civilisation that emerged in the Midwestern, Eastern, and South-eastern United States.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the city was founded around AD 1050 along the banks of the Mississippi River, located near present-day St. Louis, Missouri.

The city covered an area between six to nine square miles (notably larger than many contemporary European cities such as London) and was home to up to 20,000 inhabitants at its peak.

Following the tradition of the Mississippian culture, the people of Cahokia constructed large earthen mounds – ranging from raised platforms, conical, and ridge-top designs – involving the movement of 55 million cubic feet of earth over a period that lasted several decades.

The largest mound is known as “Monks Mound,” named after a group of Trappist monks, which rises to a height of 290 metres and was once the tallest building construction in North America.

Image Credit : MattGush – iStock

Archaeologists and students from Saint Louis University (SLU) have recently conducted a series of excavations on the western periphery of the Cahokia Mounds.

The team unearthed 900-year-old ceramics, microdrills, structures, and wall trenches dating from around AD 1100 to 1200, during the Sterling Phase of the Mississippian Period. According to the archaeologists, the finds offer new insights into a crucial period in the chiefdom’s development, coinciding with Cahokia’s rapid population growth.

The excavations follow an aerial survey by SLU and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to conduct Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to determine whether further mounds or archaeological features lie within the acres of thick forests and swampy land near the site’s main complex.

Header Image Credit : Alamy

Sources : KSDK

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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