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Archaeologists use AI to identify new archaeological sites in Mesopotamia

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Archaeologists from the University of Bologna have developed a system of AI algorithms that can identify previously undiscovered archaeological sites in the southern Mesopotamian plain.

Deep learning has found multiple uses in every field of application. In the context of archaeology, it can help in classifying objects and text, finding similarities, building 3D models, and the detection of sites.

The team conducted a test in the Maysan Province of Iraq, where the AI algorithm correctly identified sites of interest with an accuracy of 80%.

The results of the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, emphasises the issue of thousands of satellite photos in archives that would require a large amount of resources to analyse, however, using an automatic AI system, this would massively reduce the time and resources needed.

According to the study authors: “This procedure falls into the domain of Remote Sensing (RS) which indicates the act of detecting and/or monitoring a point of interest from a distance. In the world of archaeology, this operation has become invaluable with the availability of more and better imagery from satellites that can be combined with older sources of information.”

The researchers utilised a dataset consisting of vector shapes representing the archaeologically recorded sites within the southern Mesopotamian floodplain. Through training, they developed a system capable of identifying and delineating sites using pretrained models for semantic segmentation, fine-tuned on satellite imagery, and masks of the site shapes.

The study authors said: “The potential applications of this method are far reaching and do not only concern its speed: it should rather be seen as a necessary complement to traditional expert-based photointerpretation, adding to the latter in many cases site features which may go overlooked but are likely to be significant.”

University of Bologna

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-36015-5

Header Image Credit : University of Bologna

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

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

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

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

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