Archaeology & Technology

This section is devoted to the use of technology (whether new or old) for research and teaching in archaeology and ancient history.

GIS (Geographic Information Systems)

CGMA: Collaboratory for GIS and Mediterranean Archaeology

  • CGMA was a two-pronged effort: 1) to create an online meta-geodatabase of regional archaeological survey projects in Europe and the Mediterranean (the still-active database has 381 entries, but lack of continuing funding has meant that it has not been updated since 2008); 2) to create a synchronous online seminar amongst four liberal-arts colleges (DePauw, Millsaps, Rhodes and Wooster) that would teach undergraduates about archaeology and information technology, specifically Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The course was taught from 2003-2010.
  • Classical Archaeology: Building a GIS of the Ancient Mediterranean,” (with Rebecca K. Schindler) in Diana Stuart Sinton and Jenni Lund (eds), Understanding place. GIS and mapping across the curriculum, ESRI Press, Redlands, CA, 155-66.

Experiential Learning

Digging DePauw 175

  • In June 2012, on the occasion of DePauw University’s 175th anniversary, Prof. Schindler, I, and two undergraduate students undertook to locate and excavate the old Minshall Laboratory on campus, the location of a National Historic Chemical Landmark, the synthesis of physostigmine (a treatment for glaucoma). The students kept a blog on the progress of the dig, which turned out to be productive, informative, and entertaining.
  • Here is a draft of the final excavation report. We hope to have a final version available soon.

Ancient Surveying Devices

In 2001, DePauw students in my Hellenistic and Roman art and archaeology class built reproductions of two Roman surveying instruments, which have served as demonstration models ever since for teaching how Romans centuriated their rural landscapes and measured elevation as they built roads and aqueducts.

  • Groma: for laying out lines at right angles
  • Chorobates: for measuring elevation change

Roman Board Games

  • We have a set of several Roman board games at DePauw. On Oct. 20, 2012, for National Archaeology Day, I spent the day at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis teaching kids how to play several of those games. Here is a poster from that event that explains basic rules for four ancient board games, which involve both strategy and luck.
  • In 2009-10, Peter Schamber, a Classics and Computer Science double-major at DePauw wrote a senior thesis that examined the evidence for a Roman board game called “XII scripta” and then proceeded to write an iPhone app that tested out rule variations for the game (since we have incomplete and inconsistent information about how it was played). Here, with permission, is his thesis: “XII Scripta: Compilation, Analysis and Interpretation“.
  • Other sites that have information about Roman Board Games (there is not general agreement about the rules):
  • In 2007, while leading a tour in Tunisia, at a Berber ksar (fortified granary) near the town of Tatouine (the name of which George Lucas appropriated for Star Wars), I watched elderly men play, at great speed, the Roman game of ludus latrunculorum using chunks of rubber and limestone. In the south, near the Sahara, they call the game el kherbga. Here are some pictures of them, courtesy of Carol Schneider:

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