Monthly Archives: December 2008

American Colony Negatives

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The American Colony was a utopian society formed by Protestants based in Jerusalem.  First established in 1881, this society would minister to people of all faiths, setting up orphanages, medical clinics, schools, and, oddly enough, a photography studio.  I was introduced to this society a couple of hours ago, in the form of a large stash of glass negatives kept in a shoebox for many years.

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The slides were meant for educational purposes, to bring shape to the lands that people in the United States learned about every Sunday, but had never seen.  Most of the slides were of well-known religious monuments like the Wailing Wall and Jericho, with spidery writing on the side describing the scene.  These were interesting from an archaeological and conservation point of view, as many of the buildings have deteriorated rapidly with modern pollution and the demands of tourism.  There were some “ethnographic” shots as well, and I hope to be able to scan them all properly and upload the images to share more widely.  I held a few up to a sheet of paper, hanging in a sunny window.

But many of the slides were broken, shattered on one side, and were barely held together in their framing paper.

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These were the ones that affected me the most.

Eurydice’s West Oakland

Consider it Burned.

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I’m happy to report that the Burning Çatalhöyük was considered a success! We soldiered on despite considerable language and technology barriers, including a point where Karl Harrison was trying to speak about the buildings and was completely frozen.  We had a lot of visitors throughout the day, and about 30 for the main event, with numbers dropping off as it got later in the day in the rest of the world.  The exhibit will remain up at least through January, and you can still visit by downloading the Second Life software and loading this URL:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Okapi/128/128/0

The day of the event I managed to upload a video of Michael House and Karl Harrison discussing the burning of Building 77,  which you can view on the large screen in-world, but  can also view on vimeo, linked above.

I’m so happy that people took a bit of time out of their day to come check out the burn.  Kris Hirst from Archaeology@about.com had an insightful review:

http://archaeology.about.com/b/2008/12/12/second-life-and-public-archaeology-burning-catalhoyuk.htm

Declan over at the Moore Groups Blog also visited, in larger-than-life-size form!

http://mooregroup.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/catalhoyuk-in-second-life/

I would like to ask that if you participated in Burning Çatalhöyük, or if you have since viewed the reconstruction on Okapi island, that you take this poll:

http://polldaddy.com/survey.aspx?id=c5393d48b2124280

Finally, I would like to thank the following for their help with Burning Çatalhöyük.  I couldn’t have done it without you! In no particular order:

Noah Wittman
Karl Harrison
Michael House
Lizzy Ha
Ruth Tringham
Jason Quinlan
Michael Ashley
Niema Razavian
The DeCal Students!
Dan E.
Burcu Tung
Daniel Bracewell

Telerobotics and Archaeology

While doing some reading for my dissertation, I came across a reference in The Robot and the Garden to the Mercury Project, an art installation based out of USC in 1994-95.  The Mercury Project was co-directed by Ken Goldberg and Michael Mascha, the former now being at UC Berkeley, and with whom I took a class two years ago as part of my designated emphasis in New Media. Telerobotics is controlling robots at a distance, like the Mars rovers or those remote hunting websites that were in the news a few years ago.  As a side note, the main website for remote hunting no longer exists and the Texas legislature passed a ban on such activities in 2005. Lo, marginalia.

Anyway, the installation involved a robotic arm and a pneumatic puffer that WWW users could use to remotely excavate objects in a sand-filled terrarium.  The buried artifacts included a watch, a pipe, a lock, and other objects inspired by Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth.  As they state on their webpage, “we viewed the process of discovering artifacts as a metaphor for the Internet itself.  Choosing artifacts with some ‘underlying logic’ presented a challenge for collective interaction which motivated users to return to the site.”  While this all emphasizes archaeology as a rather Victorian, fantastic enterprise, I’m still pretty chuffed that the first example of telerobotics on the web was an archaeologist.

For those with academic access, here’s a link to the article in Computer Networks and ISDN Systems.

Red and Hands

Red and Hands

I finally made something that just might be Archaeography worthy, so I abused my limited moveabletype knowledge and posted an entry over there about the wall paintings and Second Life.  Let’s hope I didn’t break anything in the process.

I’ve been banging away at the buildings in Second Life–they’ll be ready by Wednesday, but only just!  The event is being pretty widely publicized, so let’s hope the servers in Linden world aren’t acting up that day.  I love that I’ve been able to get so much research for my dissertation finished, but I think I need a computer/media black-out week someday soon!

Burning Çatalhöyük

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Burning Çatalhöyük: A Virtual Public Archaeology Event hosted by UC Berkeley Students and Faculty
2PM-4:30PM Pacific Standard Time (10PM-12:30AM GMT or Universal Time)
December 10, 2008
Location: Okapi Island
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Okapi/128/128/0
(You must have the free Second Life browser)

Join us for Burning Çatalhöyük, a project developed by OKAPI, the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük, and the UC Berkeley DeCal program. Çatalhöyük on OKAPI Island, in development since 2006, is an exploration of the past and present of a 9,000 year old site located in present-day Turkey.  In this demonstration we intend to burn the existing models down in order to better understand the use of fire in Neolithic settlements.  In consultation with fire experts Karl Harrison and Ruth Tringham, and architecture expert Burcu Tung, a team of undergraduate apprentices have replicated the burning sequence of Building 77, a structure excavated in the summer of 2008.  OKAPI island also hosts reproductions of modern developments present at the site, including a water tower, Sadrettin’s café, the Chicken Shed and the nightly bonfire.

Remixing Activities:

(2-2:15)
Guided Tour of OKAPI Island by Ruth Tringham, (Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator of Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük) and the Remixing Çatalhöyük team.
(2:15-2:30)
Niema Razavian will introduce the work that the Fall 2008 Decal class has done on the island, and how this fits in with a broader UC Berkeley education.
(2:30-2:45)
Roland Saekow will demonstrate his teleportation system, to guide new visitors around the island.
(2:45-3:00)
Kira O’Connor will show the site datum she has constructed, and talk about how datums are used at archaeological sites in general.
(3:00-3:15)
Clark-Rossi Flores-Beyer will demonstrate the skeleton model he has managed to manipulate into a crouch position, in accordance with how people were buried at Çatalhöyük.  He will briefly discuss burial practices in the settlement.
(3:15-3:45)
Garrett Wagner and Raechal Perez will discuss their own reproductions of the interiors at Çatalhöyük, and how they decided to configure the space on their own.
(3:45-4:00)
Colleen Morgan (UC Berkeley PhD Candidate, excavator at Çatalhöyük) will wrap-up the program with a discussion of why virtual reconstructions of archaeological sites are important, and what Second Life can do to increase our understanding of the past.

What is Second Life?
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created entirely by its residents. Okapi Island is owned and build by the OKAPI team (that’s us below!) and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk.

Getting Started
To visit Okapi Island, you will need to create a user account and download the client software–both free.

To create an account, visit www.secondlife.com, click on Join (in the upper right corner) and follow the instructions. Note: You do not need a premium account to use Second Life or visit Okapi Island.

Next, download and install the Second Life client for your computer:
http://secondlife.com/community/downloads.php

Launch the Second Life client and enter your password. You will likely begin in Orientation Island. To visit Okapi Island, click Map, enter “Okapi” in search field and click Search. Alternatively, you can click on the following slurl (second life url) in your browser, and you will be transported there:

SLURL:
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Okapi/128/128/0

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So You’re an Archaeologist?!

This Wednesday after the scheduled brown bag lecture, there will be a
showing of “So You’re an Archaeologist?!”, a 20 minute long film made for
the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul exhibit,
currently running at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

This film was made by UC Berkeley PhD Candidates David Cohen and Colleen
Morgan and features interviews by many of their colleagues.

The film will start at approximately 1pm, after the scheduled lecture from
Alexei Vranich, and will be located in the Archaeological Research
Facility, 2251 College Building, Room 101.