Digital Archaeology Symposium at SAB XIX – Part I

Last year I hosted a symposium on Digital Archaeology with Astolfo Araújo at SAB XIX, the biennial conference of the Brazilian Archaeology Society. The symposium was titled iPads na Trincheira: Arqueologia Digital no Brasil – Onde Estamos? and included more than eleven papers on agent based modelling, data management, digital public archaeology, and 3D imaging.

As this was the first symposium in Brazil dedicated to digital archaeology I decided to kick-off with an introduction for those unfamiliar to the area. Below is a synthesis of the talk, along with slides I presented. I’ve also added some videos and imagery for the benefit of this blog.

The symposium was an important milestone for the network of researchers working with digital archaeology, as a step towards the inception of a regular series of events, and most significantly, the creation of a forum to represent Brazil in digital archaeology.

iPads na Trincheira: Arqueologia Digital no Brasil – Onde Estamos? Opening Thoughts

The earliest computing devices are archaeological artefacts themselves. We have evidence for analogue computing devices such as the abacus from thousands of years ago. An advanced example is the Antikythera Mechanism, an astronomical calendar which dates from the second century BC, recovered from a shipwreck in Greece in 1902.

However, real breakthroughs in computing have occurred over the past 80 years, commencing in the early twentieth century with the creation of electrified digital computers such as the Z3, the Colossus and the ENIAC. In the 1950s and 1960s mainframe computers were huge and limited to academic departments and government ventures such as NASA.

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Importantly, women were early pioneers in the application of these machines, but videos of the time, emphasize the man in the frame, with women cast manly as button pressers and administrators, an issue which has been highlighted in recent films such as Hidden Figures.

Developments in technology and network infrastructure were already present in the form of projects such as ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) in the 1960s, which laid the foundation for the internet. The world was revolutionised in the 1970s, when, in 1971 a Californian company won a contract to create a pocket calculator chip. Instead of hardcoding the device they created a programmable chip. That company’s name was Intel. At the same time, companies such as Apple were devoting themselves to developing the first “personal” computing devices.

The convergence of all of these initiatives formed the basis of our digital society, which has grown exponentially with the development of the World Wide Web from 1991 with Tim Berners-Lee at CERN and the development of personal mobile computing devices such as smartphones.

In archaeology, Jim Deetz was one of the first to apply computation to analyse archaeological materials in 1959 with the help of a programme he wrote to perform stylistic analyses of Arikara ceramic fragments (see Watrall 2017). During the 1970s and 1980s, a number of computer-based tools and models were created for archaeological use, storing datasets, and creating Geographical Information Systems (GIS). In 1973, the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology group (CAA) held its first meeting in Birmingham, which was organized by Susan Lafing.

Several concepts began to develop in the area of archaeology, including Virtual Archaeology, first proposed by Reilly in 1990, which sought to explore “how new digital tools could shape and enable new methodological ideas and interpretations.”, Reilly also presented now famous graphical models of archaeological stratigraphy creating using software.

“Early work using the term virtual archaeology often dealt with 3D applications, computer graphics, hypertext, and databases just made available at the time, and what they represented offered a new horizon of possibility.”

Another important contextual development took place during 2008 at the ICT in Heritage conference in Greece, where Mauricio Forte presented the concept of Cyber-archaeology to address the discussion of the feedback or interaction of multiple users in virtual environments.

Today the concept of digital archaeology is more comprehensive. The simplest definition of digital is data recorded in ones and zeroes: the digital is inherently about data. From this perspective, the field could be perceived as both technological and quantitative. But digital is more than that, it is cultural, it is a creation of different realities that we transformed into virtual, and experience and interpret in different ways, it underpins human existence in a highly public, interactive and engaging way. Reducing the size and cost of computers, switching to personal devices, and increasing the ability to capture, transform, store, and share our data in greater numbers and complexity has supported the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Digital technology has permeated our lives, has influenced culture, and culture has influenced digital technology. Digital archaeology is therefore inherently public and involves the application of technologies to create, share and store digital archaeological information and media including imaging, augmented and virtual reality, games, 3D printing, crowdsourcing, data analysis, algorithms, among others.

Eventually, all archaeology could be digital. In this light, one questions whether we should continue to discuss digital archaeology as opposed to simply discussing archaeology. In my opinion, it still makes sense because digital technology is likely to continue to disrupt and influence our society, and as researchers we need a way to describe and evaluate the approaches and methods which are developed digitally.

Furthermore, as Beale and Reilly (2017) pointed out computer applications have not yet radically changed how we conduct day-to-day archaeological practice. Thus, we must continue to assess emerging technologies and capabilities to understand how they may generate a transformation in archaeological practice:

Among the most recognised emerging technologies which have the potential to impact the field of archaeology are (modified from Beale and Reilly 2017):

  • Computer Vision: Facilitated by the ubiquity of digital cameras and software processing, it is likely that the DIY revolution in 3D data creation will continue with technologies such as image-based modelling and combinations of other methods, making it easy to create and share 2D data and 3D models
  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: Archaeologists have a wide range of options for creating immersive and interactive experiences
  • Big Data (including linked and open data): There is a tremendous potential in the work in progress to map archaeological ontologies and provide data management standards to allow open data – which means that we could potentially integrate larger archaeological data sets for more appropriate meta-analyses
  • AI/ML: With these datasets, there are many other applications with AI, machine learning, and deep neural networks with a great potential for archaeology
  • Open Access: the open access movement is intrinsically linked to digital technologies: opening the information and promoting sharing is the essence of the principles of the web, for example this movement has the power to further democratize knowledge and research
  • Additive Manufacturing: popularized by the efforts of 3D printing. In archaeology, it presents the potential of “aligning the physical and virtual worlds” and enabling the physical realization of 3D data for example, human artefacts or human remains
  • Crowdsourcing and Public Archaeology: The web is vital to the greater and better involvement of audiences in archaeological projects. Successful examples include the Must Farm site in the UK, which has regularly made the news with content from its excavations effectively communicated on multiple social networks

Other important areas of development include the Internet of Things; and archaeological developments as “eTrowels”: electronic trowels that detect and record the sound and texture of excavation surfaces as well as games, robotics, automation and the Blockchain.

There is no doubt that we are moving towards a future where digital technology permeates everything, with the promise of unlimited potential. Yet, this also poses risks when it comes to issues regarding security, privacy and ethics, often highlighted in series such as Black Mirror.

To address these issues, I believe we must adopt approaches such as that proposed by Bill Caraher’s “Slow Archaeology,” which requires a critical appreciation of the accelerated pace that digital tools have brought about increasingly industrialised practices in archaeology. We also need to carefully consider ethical issues regarding data sharing as well as practical issues of long-term storage, management, and data accessibility.

Furthermore, we must consider how best to establish digital understanding and capabilities via our undergraduate courses. This requires the development and implementation of approaches which go beyond simplistic guides to how technologies work or which software to use. We must be reflexive, inclusive and consider the implications of inequalities, affordability remembering that the best devices, training and resources are concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of academic centres, often in the world’s most developed countries. Solving the problem of more democratised access to technologies and education for those without the same resources as in South America is a challenge.

Ultimately, students must be enabled to not only think with digital tools, but to innovate and disrupt existing traditional methods and hegemonies, whilst maintaining ethical integrity and consideration.

Originally presented as Ulguim, P. F. 2017. Introduction. Simpósio Temático: iPads na Trincheira: Arqueologia Digital no Brasil – Onde Estamos? XIX Congresso Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. 10 – 15 September 2017. Teresina, Brazil. Teresina, 2017.


Beale, G. and Reilly, P. 2017. Digital Practice as Meaning Making in Archaeology. Internet Archaeology 44.

Forte, M. 2008. Cyber-archaeology: an eco-approach to the virtual reconstruction of the past. In: Proceedings of International Symposium on Information and Communication Technologies in Cultural Heritage, Ioannina, Greece, pp. 91-106.

Reilly, P. 1991. Towards a Virtual Archaeology. In: Rahtz, S. and K. Lockyear (eds.), CAA90. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 1990.

Watrall, E. 2017. Archaeology, the Digital Humanities, and the ‘Big Tent’. In: Debates in the Digital Humanities. [Accessed 11 May 2018]

Header Image: Site Documentation with Tablets by Jason Quinlan Under Licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Alimento, Ferramentas ou Amigos? XIX Congresso da SAB: Zooarq

O Congresso da SAB – Sociedade Brasileira de Arqueologia, é um evento que ocorre a cada dois anos e reúne diversos arqueólogos brasileiros e estrangeiros. O objetivo do congresso é apresentar resultados e projetos de pesquisas e promover debates sobre questões relevantes para as diversas audiências. A cada congresso um tema diferente é proposto para que a comunidade de arqueólogos reflita sobre. Este ano o congresso aconteceu em Teresina no Piauí e o tema foi “Arqueologia na Trincheira”.

A conferência teve início no domingo com a palestra de abertura da arqueóloga Loredana Ribeiro que falou sobre o tema Enfrentando o Sexismo-Racismo Epistêmico na Arqueologia Brasileira e abordou questões muito pertinentes sobre gênero e crítica feminista. Embora eu tenha chegado em Teresina no final da tarde, surpreendente consegui acompanhar a fala de abertura do hotel via transmissão ao vivo no Facebook – muito útil para quem não pode estar fisicamente presente.


Fig 1. Palestra de abertura da arqueóloga Loredana Ribeiro via LiveStream no Facebook

Minha primeira apresentação foi na segunda-feira onde coordenei o simpósio iPads na Trincheira Arqueologia digital no Brasil, onde estamos? e apresentei sobre as potencialidades, desafios e boas práticas de compartilhamento de modelos 3D e dados bioarqueológicos, e em particular sobre modelos de remanescentes humanos, mas esse é um tópico para um outro blog.

Neste post eu gostaria de falar sobre a sessão que ocorreu na sexta-feira dia 15 de setembro onde apresentei meu segundo trabalho neste congresso. Fui a primeira a apresentar, o que sinceramente prefiro, pois assim posso me dedicar a ouvir as outras comunicações com total atenção.

A minha apresentação foi sobre as pesquisas zooarqueológicas que venho realizando. E com o congresso tive a oportunidade de apresentar os resultados iniciais para os pares  da comunidade de arqueólogos. O trabalho falou sobre a arqueoictiofauna presente em sítios arqueológicos conhecidos como cerritos na região da Lagoa dos Patos, a importância do papel da pesca para essas sociedades e sobre como novos métodos analíticos avançados aliados a dados arqueológicos, etnográficos e etnohistóricos podem auxiliar na elaboração de hipóteses sobre as diversas relações e interações entre essas sociedades, os animais e o ambiente no passado.

Mas antes de continuar é importante explicar o que é arqueoictiofauna? Bem, arqueoictiofauna é um termo que muitos pesquisadores utilizam em seus trabalhos e que de forma breve faz referência aos vestígios de peixe (na maioria fragmentos ósseos), encontrados em sítios arqueológicos. Embora, parte dos resultados tenha sido apresentada pela primeira vez, essa pesquisa teve início há mais ou menos 10 anos quando eu era ainda uma graduanda e estava escrevendo o trabalho de monografia.

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Fig 2. Equipe de arqueólogos no sítio PT-02 em 2006. Fonte: Acervo do LEPAARQ

Mas o que há de novo na pesquisa? Bem, nos últimos três anos venho realizando o doutorado que tem como foco o emprego de métodos analíticos avançados e de imagem 3D no estudo dos ossos queimados. Durante o doutorado eu venho empregando diferentes procedimentos analíticos entre eles: a espectrometria por fluorescência de Raios-X XRF, métodos 3D que incluem scanners de luz estruturada e também o espectrofotômetro, que de forma sucinta é utilizado para medir o comprimento de onda de luz refletida da superfície de uma amostra.

No trabalho Alimento, Ferramentas ou Amigos? Zooarqueologia no Cerrito da Sotéia, Lagoa dos Patos, Brasil tive a oportunidade de testar algumas hipóteses desenvolvidas no início desta pesquisa e outras que venho elaborando mais recentemente. Além é claro da aplicação desses métodos avançados mencionados acima em uma amostra de arqueoictiofauna do sítio.

Os dados coletados foram correlacionados com outros dados já disponíveis (ver ULGUIM, 2010) como identificação e comportamento das espécies, contexto arqueológico e tamanho dos peixes, o qual foi calculado com base em modelos de regressão e em tamanhos e espécies modernas. Esses dados foram analisados no Rlogo e usados para testar as hipóteses relativas aos possíveis métodos empregados na captura e no processamento dos peixes. E na elaboração de hipóteses sobre a importância da pesca e das relações homem-animais-ambiente para essas sociedades no passado.

Para auxiliar com esse processo eu compilei dados de diversos sítios arqueológicos cerritos com presença de artefatos, adornos e ferramentas associadas a pesca (ver ULGUIM, 2010 Anexos 6 e 7) com fontes etnográficas e etnohistóricas de diferentes períodos que falam sobre métodos de pesca e processamento de peixes. Por fim, fiz uso da analogia com base em um exemplo moderno com o objetivo de abordar aspectos ritualísticos e de identidade com a pesca e o mar, e o consumo dos peixes. O exemplo atual foi a Festa do Mar. Durante vários anos morei na cidade de Rio Grande, e em diferentes ocasiões, quando ainda estudava no colégio Joana D’Arc participei das edições da Festa do Mar.  Foi nesse período, ainda que de forma inicial, que comecei a compreender a importância da pesca e do mar para a comunidade de Rio Grande e da forte identidade com o porto. Além é claro, onde inicialmente testei minhas habilidades de confecção de coleção de referência através das inúmeras tainhas consumidas.

Um dos aspectos mais importantes do trabalho apresentado foi a proposição de um novo método que venho trabalhando. A hipótese: É que seria possível identificar espécies de peixe por meio da aplicação e combinação de XRF com outro método. Essa é uma hipótese inicial! que venho elaborando ao lado do meu super-orientador Prof. Tim Thompson. A motivação foi a carência de métodos que se dediquem a fragmentação e fragmentos alterados e que possibilitem análises mais qualitativas. De fato, nem sempre temos a sorte de lidar com elementos e otólitos inteiros. Gostaria que fosse assim, mas a realidade é que estatisticamente grande parte do que escavamos e amostramos é composta de fragmentos que em muitos casos não são identificáveis pelos métodos tradicionais devido ao tamanho, a fragmentação e ao estado de preservação. Venho me dedicando então a desenvolver métodos para os fragmentos que muitas vezes são deixados de lado (ver mais sobre em ULGUIM e ULGUIM, 2017). Não é segredo que minha carreira tem sido em grande parte dedicada a pequenos fragmentos alterados que a maior parte dos pesquisadores não quer trabalhar com ou que acredita apresentar um potencial limitado.

Depois de apresentar assisti as outras comunicações da sessão que foram bastante interessantes. O trabalho de Milheira et al. (2017), apresentado por Caroline abordou temas relevantes sobre as pesquisas que vem sendo desenvolvidas pelo LEPAARQ como as análises isotópicas de C13 e N15 realizadas na arqueofauna e nos remanescentes humanos (para mais informações sobre as análises bioarqueológicas dos remanescentes humanos ver ULGUIM e MILHEIRA, 2017). Foi ótimo ver a continuidade dos trabalhos na região e que o time continua a encontrar novos sítios.

A apresentação Qual a antiguidade dos esqueletos humanos de Lagoa Santa, Minas Gerais? Implicações para o entendimento da ocupação dos caçadores-coletores na região de Pedro da Glória, Danilo Bernado e Walter Neves esta entre as favoritas dessa seção, pois tocou em questões muito importantes como: a relevância das coleções que não apresentam um registro detalhado de proveniência, em muitos casos devido a historicidade dos métodos usados, e que por vezes são desconsideradas ou não pesquisadas. Pedro explicou de forma didática a importância que a datação de grande parte da coleção composta por remanescentes humanos teve no refinamento e na melhor compreensão dos períodos de ocupação na região de Lagoa Santa e como esses dados implicam no entendimento das sociedades caçadoras-coletoras que viveram na região e também nas práticas funerárias. Esse foi o último trabalho que consegui assistir nessa seção antes de sair as pressas para o aeroporto para pegar o voo para São Paulo. No final a semana foi muito produtiva para compartilhar a pesquisa com outros pesquisadores no Brasil, trocar ideias e conhecer novos pesquisadores.

Estou compartilhando também o pdf que fiz da apresentação para vocês verem um pouco mais sobre o trabalho e os dados apresentados aos pares durante o congresso e sobre o novo método que vem sendo desenvolvido na tentativa de demonstrar a importância dos fragmentos e de seus dados na intepretação de atividades passadas relacionadas a pesca e ao processamento dos peixes.

Alimento, Ferramentas ou Amigos?

PDF: ULGUIM, P. F. Alimento, Ferramentas ou Amigos?

Mas se você esta aqui apenas pelo modelo 3D, aqui vai um gif feito especialmente para os leitores determinados que chegaram até o final deste post.

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Fig 3. Otólito de Pogonias cromis (miraguaia) em 3D

E como um bônus adicional, caso você seja um bioarch lover e esteja sentindo falta de ler sobre remanescentes humanos neste post, aqui esta um artigo publicado esse ano sobre remanescentes humanos em sítios cerritos próximos a Lagoa dos Patos.

Como citar a apresentação: ULGUIM, P. F. Alimento, Ferramentas ou Amigos? Compreendendo as interações entre homens, animais e ambientes através da Zooarqueologia no Cerrito da Sotéia, Lagoa dos Patos, Brasil. Comunicação apresentada no XIX Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. 10 – 15 Setembro 2017. Teresina, Brasil. Teresina. 2017.


DA GLÓRIA, P.; BERNADO, D.; NEVES, W. Qual a antiguidade dos esqueletos humanos de Lagoa Santa, Minas Gerais? Implicações para o entendimento da ocupação dos caçadores-coletores na região. Comunicação apresentada no XIX Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. 10 – 15 Setembro 2017. Teresina, Brasil. Teresina. 2017.

MILHEIRA, R. G. et al. Reconstruindo a dieta dos grupos construtores de cerritos do sul da Laguna dos Patos a partir de análises zooarqueológicas, arqueobotânicas e de isótopos estáveis. Comunicação apresentada no XIX Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. 10 – 15 Setembro 2017. Teresina, Brasil. Teresina. 2017.

RIBEIRO, L. Enfrentando o Sexismo-Racismo Epistêmico na Arqueologia Brasileira. Palestra de Abertura do XIX Congresso da SAB. Palestra apresentada no XIX Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. 10 – 15 Setembro 2017. Teresina, Brasil. Teresina. 2017.

ULGUIM, P. F. Modelos 3D e Arqueologia: Potencialidades, Desafios e Boas Práticas de Compartilhamento de Dados Digitais. Comunicação apresentada no XIX Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. 10 – 15 Setembro 2017. Teresina, Brasil. Teresina. 2017.

ULGUIM, P. F.; ARAÚJO, A. G. M. Simpósio Temático: iPads na Trincheira: Arqueologia Digital no Brasil – Onde Estamos? Simpósio Temático do XIX Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. 10 – 15 Setembro 2017. Teresina, Brasil. Teresina, 2017.

ULGUIM, V. F.; ULGUIM, P. F. Análise dos Padrões de Quebra em Espinhos de Peixes: Cerrito PSG02-Valverde Pelotas/RS. Poster apresentado na V Semana Internacional de Arqueologia Discentes, MAE-USP, 8-12 Maio 2017, São Paulo. São Paulo. 2017. doi:10.5281/zenodo.572327

1. 2. 3D and Catch! A Practical Photogrammetry Class for Forensic Science

This post originally appeared on the TU Anthropology Blog on 14 March 2016. As that blog has been archived, I’m reposting this here. Original URL. As a note of caution on digital curation, only 18 months on and 123D Catch is no longer an active service, and the models created using the service are no longer available on the 123D site.


She stood over the axe, pressing away at the iPad screen, shuffling to the left a little after each tap on the glass. The room was full of lab coated figures, iPads and smartphones in hand. Some circled human crania, others shoes and empty bottles. All tapping and pressing and moving on, around, in sequence.

This scene has been a regular occurrence in our lab at Teesside University over the past month. This is because we’ve been running a practical class on photogrammetry for our first year students.


Data collection in the car lab

Recently Prof. Tim Thompson invited me and fellow PhD researcher Paul Norris to run a series of three-hour practical sessions intended to provide an overview of the applications of photogrammetry in forensic science, and insights into the creation of 3D models. The aim was to host groups of around 20 students in our labs for a series of one-off sessions.

Why Photogrammetry?

It’s clear that our world is changing at a rapid pace due to innovation in digital technology, improved data storage and sharing capabilities. One area which has been subject to exponential growth in popularity is the creation of 3D imagery for recording and analysis of objects and spaces, which may be linked to other data sets (see The Atlantic for further discussion). Many academic projects make use of this type of technology, for example the Smithsonian has made 3D models of an excavation at Jamestown publicly available (Smithsonian X 3D). There are various methods which may be used to create 3D models but of these, photogrammetry arguably has the least onerous equipment and systems requirements.

In short, photogrammetry involves making measurements of surfaces and areas from photographs. These measurements can be used to model three-dimensional motions of the surfaces which feature in the photographs. It is possible to estimate three-dimensional coordinates of points on a surface by using two or more overlapping images, called stereoscopic images – this estimation is known as stereophotogrammetry. The common points in each image are used to triangulate the three-dimensional location of those points. To obtain this data, we use cameras to capture images from multiple angles and heights around an object or surface. The images are then processed in software which detects those common points and can create a three-dimensional model. The images may be used to create a texture to overlay on the model, which appears as an accurate colour representation of these features.

This means that all that is required is a device to capture images, such as a digital camera or smartphone, and a computer with decent processing power and the necessary software. Another option is a device with internet connectivity, as images can be processed in the cloud, via applications such as 123DCatch from Autodesk. Many people have access to digital cameras and computers, while smartphones have a high penetration rate in many countries. For our students, exposure to and understanding of this technology could provide inspiration for future projects and aid them in interpreting photogrammetric data.

Class Design

The plan was to get the students to gather images and build models in 123D Catch due to accessibility and ease of processing. Given that processing times can be relatively lengthy the final design assumed that it would be best to review the important elements of the method and outputs first. This would enable the students to plan and collect their data as early as possible. Following data collection the models could be left to process while explaining further aspects of the theory. This would cover platforms for sharing data, interacting with 3D models using Google Cardboard, and reinforcing knowledge through a class quiz.

Drawing the Outlines: Class Part 1

The class introduction provided a review of the basics of photogrammetry and potential applications. We looked at the use of photogrammetry and CT scan data in the analysis of forensic evidence from Thali et al. (2003) and Brüschweiler et al. (2003) who published a series of articles integrating 3D photogrammetric models with CAD models and data from CT scans as part of the “Virtopsy” project (Thali et al. 2005; Bolliger et al. 2008; Bolliger and Thali 2015) (which, incidentally, resulted in the amazing ‘Virtobot’ robotic system (Breitbeck et al. 2013)). Their work included examples such as the overlay of rubber bullets onto photogrammetric models of bruising on a cadaver, and of a shotgun model onto a photogrammetric model of a wound. Other tests for the application of photogrammetry in forensics can be found in Slot et al. (2013) and Urbanová et al. (2015).

I was keen to emphasize the application of this technology across disciplines. From archaeology, an example was detailed 3D models from Ducke et al. (2011) of the mass Viking grave discovered at Weymouth, UK. This was a great illustration of the application of photogrammetry to a complex archaeological context containing human remains, providing relatively easy access and preservation of a range of views and spatial data which would have been more difficult using other methods. The application to a mass grave illustrates the potential for recording such contexts in forensic investigations. We also showed examples from other sites such as Çatalhöyük, where 3D recording has been included in the archaeological workflow for several years (Berggren et al. 2015; Forte et al. 2012; Forte et al. 2015; Haddow et al. 2015). Another good example of archaeological application can be seen in the ‘Virtual Taphonomy’ approach of Wilhelmson and Dell’Unto (2015), or in De Reu et al. (2013).

From palaeontology Falkingham et al. (2014) provided another example of a great application. They reconstructed a 3D model of dinosaur tracks at the Paluxy River Dinosaur Chase Sequence from 70 year old photos. Using only 16 photos they were able to reconstruct the sequence, which is now subdivided between various institutions, and compare the full sequence to the historic plans. (Peter’s blog has some excellent content on the application of photogrammetry, and he has an open challenge for anyone who wants to improve on those Paluxy Chase models!).

We touched on some of the ethical issues involved in the creation of such models, and considerations for sharing. These aspects need to be handled carefully, and clearly, any models produced are subject to the same ethical and legal requirements as any documentation from forensic cases. Other points to consider are intellectual property, copyright and ownership of digital models: what constitutes the ‘author’s own intellectual creation’, when the model will be a copy of a physical object or area? This is a fast-developing field, which also has implications for the ways in which data may be shared and reused.

Practical Activities & Demos: Class Part 2

For the practical activities students were split into groups and provided with iPads. They chose objects to model, and then were to document their plan; the objectives and expected outputs, considering ethics and any risks involved the data capture process.


Recording the shoe!

We provided a range of objects from our lab at Teesside University such as replica crania with bullet trauma, axes, and saws. Students used their own objects for modelling too, for example, their shoes ended up on the benches. In addition, we took trips to the car lab, where our students were able to take images of cars set up for mock forensic investigations.

Towards the end of the class we had a bit of fun. First, to recap on the learning from the first half, we conducted a quick multiple choice quiz – a great tool for helping students remember the principles. After this we explored publicly available 3D models on SketchFab and 123DCatch using a version of Google Cardboard that I purchased for the class.


Rocking Google Cardboard in the Lab

These enabled us to engage the students in virtual forensics and archaeology in an innovative way, providing an example of how data can be shared and visualised. The combination of Google Cardboard and the SketchFab platform was highly immersive and interactive.


Shoeprint” A publicly available model on 123DCatch by fovdjan, Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license.

Finally, when the first models processed, we reviewed and critiqued them together as a group using the iPads, providing suggestions for improved data collection and set-up.


There were several aspects that we were interested in: the timing and structure of the activities, whether our guidance was sufficient for students to create models, and if the class was interesting and motivating.


A key consideration in the class design was timing. In the end, we were able to complete the explanations and collect the data in good time. The models then processed in the cloud while the other demos and explanations took place. The first session finished ahead of time, but from the second session onwards we added the car lab visit to the schedule, which took up the remainder of the time. We reviewed some processed models in class and had a project on 123D Catch, where all student models were finally captured for sharing and review of the outputs.

What happened with the models?

The students loved the data gathering exercise. They were eager to get started as soon as we explained what the practical entailed. Sometimes this did mean that they so wanted to get started that they didn’t follow all of the guidance, but it was good to see them get stuck into the data gathering exercise. Being able to visualise the models and analyse them in class was very useful for the students’ learning process. For example, some models looked a little ‘holey’, due to lacks of overlapping images, and others showed dark areas due to shadows. On the other hand, some were perfect! Students also began to realise that where they placed their objects could have an impact on their model creation. If they were larger objects, like the cars, or placed on higher benches, they sometimes found they couldn’t easily photograph parts of the object – a stepladder was available for the cars, but only some students made use of it.


Stepladders at the ready!

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All angles now


3D model of a saw in the lab by fenton emma Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license


3D model of a replica human cranium in the lab by jamespriestly2011 Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license

Room layout and lighting should be carefully considered when planning data capture. In our case, both the lab and car lab provided challenges. In the lab, the lighting cast shadows at times, and in the car lab there was significant reflection on the car surfaces. I think both were very useful in developing an understanding of the practicalities of collecting photographs for photogrammetry as dealing with data collection in uncontrolled environments is a real life challenge.

Another potential issue encountered was movement in the background of their images – having multiple people standing around objects in the room meant that there was some background interference which 123D Catch struggled with. This is something that can be managed quite easily, by timing the photos correctly, having ample space, and making sure the shot backgrounds are clear. We recommended the use of ad-hoc markers for referencing during model creation and later calibration and measurement. Nevertheless, most did not make use of targets during data collection.

The App

123D Catch has an intuitive user interface and data collection and upload is relatively straightforward. However, following data collection it would have been useful to be able to scroll through images and select or change multiple images, rather than one by one. We did experience errors during processing, sometimes because of connectivity issues with Wi-Fi, which meant that data was lost, other times the processing failed – likely due to issues in the data collection. It was neat to have the ability to download to multiple devices: we loaded it to the university iPads, but our students often downloaded direct to their own devices when they saw it was available on the app store. During the first week we handed out 10 iPads, but as it became obvious that they preferred to use their own tablets and smartphones, we ended up handing out around three iPads per session.

An important note on using shared devices – it’s always a good idea to make sure that you’ve logged out of all of your accounts. Leaving your accounts logged in can compromise your data security!


The students appeared to enjoy the ‘hands-on’ nature of the class, and were able to actually create models successfully. We also found out surprisingly, that people love Google Cardboard this really enhanced the experience of the outputs of photogrammetry. They were so popular that several students asked to order their own during the class. There has been lots of discussion about our experience of 3D artefacts (di Franco et al. 2015), and the impact of virtual archaeology (Forte 2010; di Franco et al. 2012). I believe that this technology, combined with mobile devices, has already started to revolutionise our communications.


Some suggestions for similar activities would be to consider:

  1. Exercise design: incorporating challenges and providing time for reflection and feedback
  2. Interactive activities: the shared project on 123D Catch and Google Cardboard were successful in this case
  3. Equipment requirements
  4. Application limitations
  5. Room layout
  6. Types of object

Within the field of forensics, photogrammetry can maximise the potential of available evidence, and take advantage of temporal moments which are later destroyed – providing a detailed, three-dimensional model of a scene or specific subject, which can be easily analysed, measured and viewed from multiple angles, and can be preserved for future study.

For example the Virtopsy project highlighted the fact that 3D models of injuries and whole cadavers can be highly useful when the physical body will be buried and will decompose. Similarly, old photographs may be used to create models in forensic settings similar to the case of the reconstructed Paluxy Chase dinosaur tracks – for example footwear impressions.

Running these classes was great fun, and nothing is more invaluable than the exchange between students and researchers. You learn as much as you teach! Many thanks go to Paul and Tim for their cooperation, and our great students for taking part and granting permission to be photographed.

You can explore more detail of the practical via the class Prezi I made and our class models on the 123DCatch Project.


Berggren, Å., N. Dell’Unto, M. Forte, S. Haddow, I. Hodder, J. Issavi, N. Lercari, C. Mazzucato, A. Mickel, and J. S. Taylor. 2015. “Revisiting Reflexive Archaeology at Çatalhöyük: Integrating Digital and 3D Technologies at the Trowel’s Edge.” Antiquity 89 (344): 433–448. doi:10.15184/aqy.2014.43.

Bolliger, S. A., and M. J. Thali. 2015. “Imaging and Virtual Autopsy: Looking Back and Forward.” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 370 (1674). doi:10.1098/rstb.2014.0253.

Bolliger, S. A., M. J. Thali, S. Ross, U. Buck, S. Naether, and P. Vock. 2008. “Virtual Autopsy Using Imaging: Bridging Radiologic and Forensic Sciences. A Review of the Virtopsy and Similar Projects.” European Radiology 18 (2): 273–282. doi:10.1007/s00330-007-0737-4.

Breitbeck, Robert, Wolfgang Ptacek, Lars Ebert, Martin Furst, and Gernot Kronreif. 2013. “Virtobot – A Robot System for Optical 3D Scanning in Forensic Medicine.” Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on 3D Body Scanning Technologies, Long Beach CA, USA, 19-20 November 2013: 84–91. doi:10.15221/13.084.

Brüschweiler, W., M. Braun, R. Dirnhofer, and M. J. Thali. 2003. “Analysis of Patterned Injuries and Injury-Causing Instruments with Forensic 3D/CAD Supported Photogrammetry (FPHG): An Instruction Manual for the Documentation Process.” Forensic Science International 132 (2): 130–138. doi:10.1016/S0379-0738(03)00006-9.

De Reu, J., G. Plets, G. Verhoeven, P. De Smedt, M. Bats, B. Cherretté, W. De Maeyer, et al. 2013. “Towards a Three-Dimensional Cost-Effective Registration of the Archaeological Heritage.” Journal of Archaeological Science 40 (2): 1108–1121. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2012.08.040.

Di Franco, P., F. Galeazzi, and C. Camporesi. 2012. “3D Virtual Dig: A 3D Application for Teaching Fieldwork in Archaeology.” Internet Archaeology 32 (4). doi:10.11141/ia.32.4

Di Franco, Paola Di Giuseppantonio, Carlo Camporesi, Fabrizio Galeazzi, and Marcelo Kallmann. 2015. “3D Printing and Immersive Visualization for Improved Perception of Ancient Artifacts.” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 24 (3): 243–264. doi:10.1162/PRES_a_00229.

Ducke, B., D. Score, and J. Reeves. 2011. “Multiview 3D Reconstruction of the Archaeological Site at Weymouth from Image Series.” Computers and Graphics (Pergamon) 35 (2): 375–382. doi:10.1016/j.cag.2011.01.006.

Falkingham, P. 2015. “The Historical Photogrammetry Challenge – over to You!” Falkingham Lab Webpage. Accessed 10-Oct-2015.

Falkingham, Peter L., Karl T. Bates, and James O. Farlow. 2014. “Historical Photogrammetry: Bird’s Paluxy River Dinosaur Chase Sequence Digitally Reconstructed as It Was prior to Excavation 70 Years Ago.” PLoS ONE 9 (4): e93247. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093247.

Fenton, E. 2016. “3D Model of Saw.” Accessed 10-Mar-2016.

Forte, M. 2010. “Introduction to Cyber-Archaeology.” Archaeopress: Oxford.

Forte, M., N. Dell’Unto, J. Issavi, L. Onsurez, and N. Lercari. 2012. “3D Archaeology at Çatalhöyük.” International Journal of Heritage in the Digital Era 1 (3): 351–378. doi:10.1260/2047-4970.1.3.351.

Forte, M., N. Dell’Unto, K. Jonsson, and N. Lercari. 2015. “Interpretation Process at Çatalhöyük Using 3D.” In Hodder, I. and Marciniak, A. (eds.) Assembling Çatalhöyük, Maney: Leeds.

Fovdjan. “Shoeprint.” Accessed 03-Mar-2016.

Haddow, S. D., C. J. Knüsel, B. Tibbetts, M. Milella, and B. Betz. 2015. “Human Remains.” In Çatalhöyük Archive Report 2015, 85–101. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.4879.7525.

LaFrance, Adrienne. 2016. “Archaeology’s Information Revolution.” The Atlantic. Accessed 03-Mar-2016.

Priestley, J. 2016. “3D Model of Replica Human Cranium.” Accessed 10-Mar-2016.

SketchFab. 2015. “SketchFab.” Accessed 10-Oct-2016.

Slot, L., P. K. Larsen, and N. Lynnerup. 2014. “Photogrammetric Documentation of Regions of Interest at Autopsy—A Pilot Study.” J Forensic Sci 59: 226–230. doi:10.1111/1556-4029.12289.

Smithsonian. 2015. “Smithsonian X 3D Explorer: Jamestown Chancel Burial Excavation.” Accessed 03-Mar-2016.

Thali, M J, M Braun, U Buck, E Aghayev, C Jackowski, P Vock, M Sonnenschein, and R Dirnhofer. 2005. “VIRTOPSY – Scientific Documentation, Reconstruction and Animation in Forensic: Individual and Real 3D Data Based Geo-Metric Approach Including Optical Body/object Surface and Radiological CT/MRI Scanning.” Journal of Forensic Sciences 50 (2): 428–442. doi:10.1520/JFS2004290.

Thali, M. J., M. Braun, J. Wirth, P. Vock, and R. Dirnhofer. 2003. “3D Surface and Body Documentation in Forensic Medicine: 3-D/CAD Photogrammetry Merged with 3D Radiological Scanning.” Journal of Forensic Sciences 48 (6): 1356–1365.

Urbanová, P., P. Hejna, and M. Jurda. 2015. “Testing Photogrammetry-Based Techniques for Three-Dimensional Surface Documentation in Forensic Pathology.” Forensic Science International 250: 77–86. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.03.005.

Wilhelmson, H., and N. Dell’Unto. 2015. “Virtual Taphonomy: A New Method Integrating Excavation and Postprocessing in an Archaeological Context.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 157 (2): 305–321. doi:10.1002/ajpa.22715

Tweet by Tweet: Analysing the anatomy of voice in conference live tweets

Its now just over a week since the end of SAA2017. Back at home I’ve been reflecting on this great conference.

I decided to spend more time at the bioarchaeology and funerary archaeology sessions at SAA as I was at CAA recently. Nevertheless, I was able to keep up with many of the discussions at the digital sessions running in parallel because they were live tweeted.

This got me thinking about coverage of the conference on twitter, differences between the coverage of each session, how to visualise these, and more importantly what it might tell us.

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with the TAGS tool from Hawksey that has some nice archiving and visualisation capabilities built in Google Sheets using Google Scripts.

TAGS 6.1 and #SAA2017

Using TAGS 6.1 I did some data-mining and extracted a dataset of tweets with the SAA2017 hashtag to look for some patterns in the data. This was facilitated by the fact that the SAA tweets are well organised by sessions using #s tags, and indeed one of the first tweets in the dataset that I extracted was about the use of hashtags:

and @captain_primate had helpfully pointed out Brian Croxall’s tips for tweeting at conferences

The TAGS archive started from 26 March 22.53, three days before the first event, until 5 April 2017 22.56, approximately three days after the close of the conference. This comprised 5459 tweets from 979 users (#SAA2017 Tweeps).

Now is a good time to highlight that this dataset will not be fully representative of the conference sessions and discussions for a few reasons, the main ones being:

  1. It only represents a subset of the tweets from SAA, given that not all users used the SAA2017 hashtag, and not all session-related tweets would have been tagged with the session tag
  2. The extract may not be complete, because Twitter’s search API is “focused on relevance and not completeness” according to a statement from Twitter posted on Hawksey’s FAQs page, others have found that the API doesn’t always represent all Twitter activity accurately (Gonzalez-Bailon et al. 2012)
  3. Finally, not everyone tweets, and those who do tweet are not necessarily representative of the conference audience

The first two points are related to working within the constraints of the source of the data and tools available. The third one is relevant to the content and focus of the tweets, which we’ll explore more below.

Despite these ‘challenges’ ☺ I decided to hack the data to analyse in Voyant Tools (a great text analysis tool I found out about via @electricarchaeo: Graham 2014).

Voyant Tools Analysis

To analyse the tweets I sorted them by date, from oldest to most recent, and loaded this into Voyant Tools as a single corpus to see what it looked like (you can access the Voyant Tools corpus here).

The total count was 95,802 words and 10,418 unique word forms, the most frequent being saa2017 (5335); rt (2140); https (2028); (1897); data (730); archaeology (714); amp (543); s149 (347); digital (297); session (296).

The graph and bubble line below show the frequency of words appearing over the duration of the dataset.

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 20.09.30

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 20.18.10

Five words (saa2017, rt, https,, amp) among the top 10 are more related to technicalities, this means that they are predisposed to being high frequency by default.

As SAA2017 is the search term it was expected to be included in all tweets. It was used as a hashtag on every tweet, but due to the way that TAGS archives the data it didn’t appear in the “text” field on 124 records, hence only appears on 5335 in the dataset of 5459.

RT occurred frequently, as each retweet started with those characters. is twitter’s shortened URL, mostly used for image links. Amp is short for ampersand and appeared because TAGS extracted this as a text code.

Interestingly, RTs increased greatly towards the end of the sample period, possibly because people looked back over the increasing archive of tweets from the conference as it progressed and finished.

The removal of each of these technical words from the list reveals that discussions frequently mentioned data, archaeology, digital, session, and s149.

At an archaeology conference you’d expect people to discuss archaeology and the sessions they were attending. The high frequency of data, digital and s149 looks to be due to the fact that s149 was the most tweeted session. It was the Forum “Beyond Data Management: A Conversation”, and is related to data and digital archaeology.

Furthermore, s149, data and digital may have been tweeted more frequently because of the point discussed above: Twitter users are more likely to be a subset of attendees concerned with digital topics, given that Twitter is a digital media platform.

It is possible to tie the tweeting of data and s149 together using Voyant Tools Collocates functionality, which shows the high frequencies of these two together.

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 20.32.45

To investigate the coverage of other sessions, I filtered for the top 10 most frequently tweeted session IDs, and reviewed the frequency of mentions over time.

The filter shown that ‘digital archaeology’-themed sessions dominated the tweet sample. Eight out of 10 top tweeted sessions had direct links to digital archaeology or computer applications and archaeology. The most frequent was s149.

ID Session Categorisation
s149 Beyond Data Management: A Conversation About “Digital Data Realities” Digiarch
s227 The Future Of “Big Data” In Archaeology Digiarch
s372 Lightning Rounds Institute For Digital Archaeology Method And Practice Project Reports Digiarch
s37 Archaeological Epistemology In The Digital Age Digiarch
s224 Burning Libraries: Environmental Impacts On Heritage And Science Environment
s112 How To Do Archaeological Science Using R Comparch
s18 Methods And Models For Teaching Digital Archaeology And Heritage Digiarch
s312 Current Challenges In Using 3d Data In Archaeology Digiarch
s256 Do Data Stop At The 49th Parallel? The State Of Archaeological Databases Digital Methodologies, Heritage Management, And Research Collaboration Through Canada And The United States Digiarch
s330 Investigating The Hunter-Gatherers Of Lake Baikal And Hokkaido: Integrating Individual Life Histories And High-Resolution Chronologies Hunter-Gath.

The temporal patterning of session IDs shows clear peaks during the times when each session took place. This points to sessions being ‘live tweeted’.


Digging Deeper

To gain some more insights into the data I looked at the full list of 5459 tweets to determine the most frequent tweeters. I defined these high frequency tweeters as users contributing 0.99% or more of the entire dataset. This turned out to be 20 users, so I termed them T20 Tweeters, in contrast to all other users.

I’ve provided the counts and proportion of tweets per each T20 Tweeter below against generic usernames. This is because although the data is publicly available on Twitter, the users might not have anticipated the publication of their specific usernames on a blog (cf. Twitter 2017a).

However, I’ve maintained the handles along with the the tweet text for each specific tweet in the archive, as required by Twitter’s broadcast guidelines (Twitter 2017b). If you are interested in seeing the user handles, you can find all the data there, or in the TAGS archive.

You can read more about the ethical discussion on social media data-mining online from a range of sources (Fish 2010; Social Data Science Lab 2016; Townsend and Wallace 2016; Zimmer 2010).

Users Count % of Total SAA2017 Tweets
User_01 302 5.53%
User_02 195 3.57%
User_03 169 3.10%
User_04 165 3.02%
User_05 139 2.55%
User_06 102 1.87%
User_07 100 1.83%
User_08 91 1.67%
User_09 87 1.59%
User_10 85 1.56%
User_11 84 1.54%
User_12 83 1.52%
User_13 82 1.50%
User_14 81 1.48%
User_15 79 1.45%
User_16 77 1.41%
User_17 62 1.14%
User_18 57 1.04%
User_19 54 0.99%
User_20 54 0.99%

Once I had the T20 tweeters and the top 10 sessions I decided to use this data to investigate two things.

Firstly, how the top 10 sessions compared to a selection of bioarchaeology and funerary archaeology sessions as these were not tweeted as frequently, and secondly, the influence of T20 Tweeters on how much each session was tweeted.

ID Session Categorisation
s276 Curating The Past: The Practice And Ethics Of Skeletal Conservation Bioarch
s92 Bioarchaeology And Genetics Bioarch
s139 Manipulated Bodies: Investigating Postmortem Interactions With Human Remains Bioarch
s31 Bodies As Narratives: Revisiting Osteobiography As A Conceptual Tool Bioarch
s219 Life And Death In Ancient Nubia: Archaeological And Bioarchaeological   Perspectives Bioarch
s252 Mortuary Practices And Funerary Archaeology I Funarch
s245 “Us” And “Them”: The Bioarchaeology Of Belonging Bioarch

The Lowdown

Breaking out the tweets per session shows the high frequency of s149 tweets, and that much of the conversation came from T20 Tweeters.The disparity between the top 10 sessions and the bioarchaeology and funerary archaeology sessions is clear. The majority of the latter have very few tweets.

Only one bioarchaeology session comes close to the coverage of the top 10, which is s276, and that is due to the fact that it was extensively covered by a T20 tweeter.


Looking at the number of tweeters per session, there were high levels of participation in the conversation in s149, but in some of the top 10 sessions there were relatively fewer tweeters, particularly in s224, on the environment, s312: a project-specific session, s256, and s330.

Greater numbers of the T20 Tweeters tweeted about the digital archaeology compared to the hunter-gatherer, bioarchaeology and funerary archaeology sessions.


To compare the dominance of voice across each session, I compared the % of tweets per session from the T20 Tweeters.

Across the sample 60-80% of the Top 10 Sessions’ tweets came from T20 Tweeters, suggesting they were the dominant voices in the conversation. The situation is different in the bioarchaeology ones, where 5 of the 6 session were 80-100% tweeted by a T20 Tweeter – if they hadn’t been there, the sessions wouldn’t have been tweeted!

One session from the Top 10 that stands out is the hunter-gatherer session, s330 which has the lowest % of tweets from the T20 Tweeters, suggesting that this was not attended by as many of these users.


To further investigate these patterns, I also looked at the proportion of RTs within each session’s tweets. This reveals that 20-60% were retweets in each of the top 10, except in s330. Here, over 70% of tweets were retweets.The evidence from the bioarchaeology sessions points to much less retweeting than the top 10. Interestingly, the one session of all analysed with no T20 Tweeters was s219, and this had a much higher retweet component compared to the other bioarch sessions, at over 60%.

One potential hypothesis to test based on this data is whether the proportion of retweets in a session is greater when there are fewer high frequency T20 Tweeters.

If this turns out to be the case, it might be that high frequency tweeters are generating more original content.



T20 Tweeters appear to be prolific tweeters who are interested in live tweeting the conference sessions they attend. As we might expect, those users are to be more likely to attend digital-related sessions, and hence these are the most frequently tweeted.

Where fewer T20 Tweeters live tweet the session, there may be less original content, and the RT component increases.

Another interesting aspect was the increase in RTs towards the later end of the data range, the end of the conference and the period afterwards. This may be due to the fact that as the conference runs it will accumulate a greater number of tweets which may be retweeted, but it may also be a function of how users interact with twitter, returning to review tweets as the event closes.

This is only a small scale investigation and there is much more to explore. However, there are other articles to be done before Easter, so I didn’t get to look at aspects such as the impact of the duration of the session on tweets, nor did I explore retweets in depth, or touch on likes, replies and follower counts.

The data used is posted to Zenodo under the DOI 10.5281/zenodo.495733 (#SAA2017 Tweeps); Github; Voyant Tools corpus or via the TAGS archive.

P.S. As the evidence points out we also need to give bioarchaeology at SAA some more digital exposure, so you can check out the presentation I gave at SAA here.


#SAA2017 Tweeps. 2017. SAA2017 TAGS Tweet Archive [Data set]. Zenodo.

Fish, A. 2010. Mining Twitter and Informed Consent. Available at: Accessed: 9 April 2017.

Gonzalez-Bailon, S. Wang, N. Rivero, A. Borge-Holthoefer, J. & Moreno, Y. (2012). Assessing the Bias in Communication Networks Sampled from Twitter. SSRN Electronic Journal. DOI 10.2139/ssrn.2185134

Graham, S. 2014. Text Analysis of the Grand Jury Documents.  Available at: Accessed: 6 April 2017.

Social Data Science Lab. 2016. Lab Online Guide to Social Media Research Ethics. Available at: Accessed: 9 April 2017.

TAGS. 2017. FAQs. Available at: Accessed 9 April 2017.

Townsend, L. Wallace, C. 2016. Social Media Research: A Guide to Ethics. University of Aberdeen. Available at: Accessed: 9 April 2017.

Twitter. 2017a. Developer Agreement & Policy. Available at: Accessed: 9 April 2017.

Twitter. 2017b. Broadcast Guidelines. Available at: Accessed: 9 April 2017.

Zimmer, M. 2010. Is it Ethical to Harvest Public Twitter Accounts without Consent? Available at: Accessed: 9 April 2017.

Fire by Trevor Hurlbut CC BY 2.0

O Fogo e a Morte: A Cremação Como Prática Funerária Ritual, Simpósio de Arqueologia das Práticas Rituais, SAB 2015

O Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira (SAB) realizou a XVIII edição na cidade de Goiânia em setembro 2015. Arqueologia para quem? foi o tema do evento. O objetivo era convidar os participantes a refletir sobre a relação entre a arqueologia e os públicos, e a discutir sobre caminhos mais eficazes na troca do conhecimento arqueológico com a sociedade, além de debater sobre o papel social do arqueólogo e o fim social da arqueologia. Uma questão muito pertinente sempre, mas em especial ao refletirmos sobre como nos comunicamos e publicamos a pesquisa acadêmica, especialmente em tempos de grande interação nas redes sociais como nos últimos 10 anos e de rápidas mudanças e incorporações tecnológicas na arqueologia.

Quando penso sobre como poderíamos melhorar a forma com que nos comunicamos com a sociedade e interessados na temática da arqueologia sempre me vem à cabeça a linguagem e os jargões utilizados na academia. Como arqueóloga acredito que poderíamos nos comunicar de maneira mais acessível, falando sobre a pesquisa de modo compreensível e atraente a qualquer pessoa.

Também em busca de responder a essa reflexão encontrei no blog um caminho acessível para trocar e compartilhar o que venho aprendendo na minha vida acadêmica. Nos últimos seis meses passei a escrever blog posts não apenas para as universidades e projetos em que estou envolvida, mas também para o meu pequeno projeto – Ossos, Enterros e Café Preto (Bones, Burials and Black coffee) um blog pessoal que tem a pretensão de ser bilíngue (português, porque é a minha língua materna e inglês por ser uma língua franca nos dias atuais) onde escrevo sobre tópicos que me interessam e sobre a minha pesquisa de maneira mais informal, com o objetivo de tornar o conteúdo acessível a quem tiver interesse.

E o post de hoje é sobre a apresentação que fiz em 2015 no congresso da SAB no simpósio – Arqueologia das Práticas Rituais – organizado pelas professoras Cristiana Barreto e Daniela Klökler. O simpósio foi muito produtivo. As apresentações foram de alta qualidade e discutiram sobre uma série de tópicos que incluíram aspectos das práticas funerárias, objetos rituais, festins, entre outros em sítios arqueológicos Sambaquis, na Amazônia, no Amapá e Jê do Sul. Além de tópicos que falaram sobre sentidos e memórias. Foi também uma oportunidade muito boa para rever amigos e para conhecer pessoalmente um grupo de pesquisadores cujo o trabalho eu gosto muito e acompanho já há alguns anos.

O Fogo e a Morte: a cremação como prática funerária ritual foi o tópico da minha apresentação, onde discuti sobre a ritualização das práticas funerárias desenvolvidas nas terras altas do sul do Brasil, a partir de 1000 anos depois do presente até o período de contato. O artigo completo do simpósio foi publicado há poucos dias e esta disponível  aqui. O trabalho compõe o volume 14, N. 1 de 2016 da revista Habitus que conta com outras apresentações do simpósio.

Fire por Trevor Hurlbut licenciado sob CC BY 2.0

Fogo (by Trevor Hurlbut licenced CC BY 2.0)

Para esse post escolhi três partes relevantes do artigo. Acredito que esses tópicos ajudam a demonstrar a importância da cremação enquanto prática funerária para as sociedades ameríndias e Jê meridional.

1. Os remanescentes humanos cremados são importantes fontes de informação para a interpretação do passado e requerem uma metodologia adequada para o seu estudo.


Elementos ósseos cremados do crânio remontados (Escala 1 cm; Priscilla Ulguim (c)).

No passado foram vistos como não significativos ou como uma prática funerária inferior em relação a inumação e aos remanescentes não queimados. Isso porque muitos acreditam que o fogo destrói os ossos. Uma visão bastante disseminada na arqueologia e de modo geral. É bastante frequente arqueólogos comentarem que não é possível inferir muito sobre aquele “monte de cinzas”. Isso não é verdade. Como disse Hertz, 1960, p. 46 “Longe de destruir o corpo, o fogo transforma o corpo”. Com o avanço das técnicas forenses, químicas e bioarqueológicas principalmente nos últimos cinco anos, muito se pode inferir sobre os remanescentes cremados. Se você quiser saber mais sobre essas técnicas e métodos aqui esta um capítulo que escrevemos recentemente (THOMPSON; ULGUIM, 2016). O fogo é um agente cultural e tafonômico e as alterações que ele induz nos ossos podem ser “lidas” facilmente por um especialista na temática dos ossos queimados. Contudo, por ser um tema difícil devido a natureza desafiadora dos ossos queimados, e pelo fato de não serem considerados por curadores e museólogos “atraentes” é muito comum que sejam negligenciados pelos arqueólogos, preteridos pelos bioarqueólogos e desconhecidos pela sociedade. Essa parte do artigo buscou discutir como a combinação de diferentes abordagens e métodos aliados a teoria da ritualização podem demonstrar a importância dessa prática e desses remanescentes.

A negligência dos ossos cremados é um grande problema na arqueologia e recentemente vem sendo repensada. Um bom exemplo dessa negligência que muitos conhecem ou já ouviram falar é Stonehenge. Um famoso sítio arqueológico que fica na Inglaterra. Esse sítio data do início do terceiro milênio antes de cristo. Foi um cemitério de cremações onde indivíduos foram depositados no interior de um círculo feito de pedras verticais conhecidas como pedras azuis (bluestones). Stonehenge teria sido fundado como um cemitério cerimonial onde membros de uma família distinta, provavelmente do País de Gales, teriam sido enterrados após sua cremação, e durante um período de aproximadamente cinco séculos. Para os pesquisadores, ao longo do tempo Stonehenge passou a ser um local de referência e vínculo com os ancestrais. Seus remanescentes humanos cremados escavados entre 1920 e 1926 não foram aceitos por quase nenhum museu na Inglaterra e foram reenterrados no sítio sem terem sido analisados em sacos de areia no ano de 1935 no Aubrey Hole 7, até que em 2008 foram reescavados e coletados para análise pelo Stonehenge Riverside Project.


Placa que acompanhava os remanescentes reescavados em 2008. Na placa detalhes de quando os ossos foram depositados no Aubrey Hole 7 após a recusa de museus (Fonte: Parker Pearson and SRP 2012).

Com esse exemplo buscamos aqui demonstrar que a cremação é um rito funerário complexo com múltiplos propósitos e que não constitui um ato final, e que não excluí o enterramento dos indivíduos.

“A cremação não é apenas uma, mas muitas práticas funerárias”(QUINN; KUIJT; COONEY, 2014, p. 5)

2. Há uma profundidade temporal significativa na prática ritualizada da cremação nas terras altas do Sul do Brasil onde repetidamente depósitos cremados foram depositados em aterros com anéis funerários.

A revisão da literatura aponta que a cremação estaria presente desde o século XI até o início do século XX, e claramente fez parte de uma importante prática ritualizada. Tal prática não parece apoiar a hipótese que propõe que o padrão de sepultamento entre os Jê meridional teria passado por uma transição de sepultamentos coletivos em grutas para enterros individuais em montículos. As evidências encontradas nos sítios arqueológicos não suportam essa hipótese, e pesquisas recentes apontam a presença não apenas de depósitos individuais, mas também múltiplos realizados sucessivamente com passar do tempo nas mesmas feições funerárias.

3. A abordagem etnobioarqueológica (Etnobioarqueologia) foi um importante aspecto desse trabalho.

Nesta parte investigo os relatos etnográficos e ethnohistóricos dos mitos/cosmologia dos Laklanõ/Xokleng, que não foram exploradas de forma tão pormenorizada como as do Kaingang ao discutirmos esses monumentos. Por isso escrevi especificamente sobre algumas cerimônias como o Waikômáng e o Ãgyïn. Pois acredito ser mais relevante para a discussão os temas em comum desses grupos do que quem cremaria os mortos. Esses seriam os três pontos que escolhi para falar neste post.

Ao esclarecermos alguns dos equívocos construídos ao longo do tempo sobre a cremação e a prática funerária dos Jê do Sul passamos também a melhor compreender o fenômeno da cremação nas sociedades ameríndias. Outros pontos como a percepção de uma boa morte, semelhanças e diferenças no registro arqueológico funerário, aspectos específicos das análises bioarqueológicas e dos remanescentes cremados e sua relação com a paisagem também foram discutidas no artigo. Espero que o artigo e o blog possam auxiliar na reconsideração dos rótulos atribuídos aos remanescentes cremados e a seu potencial informativo.


Parker Pearson, M. and the Stonehenge Riverside Project 2012. Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery. Simon & Schuster: London.

Thompson, T. J. U. and Ulguim, P. 2016. Burned Human Remains. In Blau, S. Ubelaker, D. H. (eds.) Handbook of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology. Second Edition. Left Coast Press: Walnut Creek.

Ulguim, P. F. 2016. O fogo e a morte: a cremação como prática funerária ritual. Habitus Goiânia 14(1):107-130. DOI: 10.18224/hab.v14.1.2016.107-130

Quinn, C. P. Kuijt, I. Cooney, G. 2014. Introduction: Contextualizing Cremations. In Kujit, I. Quinn, C. P. Cooney, G. (eds). Transformation by Fire: The Archaeology of Cremation in Cultural Context. University of Arizona Press: Tucson, pp. 3-22.

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