CAA 2016, Oslo/Norway

3D GIS in archaeology – a microscale analysis

  • presentation of first voxel-based models of archaeological stratigraphy from the Ostia Antica excavation 2011


Want to see more -> visit the Gallery.


Blog – intermission

The blogs pauses because all recent events are now announced at the FORUM website of the Excellence Cluster TOPOI.

Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin 2013/14: Call for Papers

For more detail, please visit our FORUM website at the Excellence Cluster TOPOI.

An Event at the “Dosse”

May 2013


With the prolonging of the Excellence Cluster Topoi project we got the opportunity to establish a new platform for Topoi members who are working with quantitative methods. The so called FORUM for Spatial Data Analysis offers a bunch of support e.g.

– organising conferences (like the AG CAA 2013),

– providing software, hardware and working facilities,

organizing workshops, trainings and seminars.

One of the latest survey training took place at the Archaeological Park Freyenstein and attracted even local journalists:



If you want to read more about the event, please visit the FORUM website.



CAA 2013

25. – 28. March 2013


Have a look at the FORUM website and you will find my personal impression of the conference.




AG CAA 2013

15. – 16. February 2013



The AG Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods held its 4th Workshop in February 2013 at the Free University in Berlin. It was organized together with the Excellence Cluster Topoi.
If you want to read more about the event, please visit the conference website.


Soil Micromorphology Workshop at UCL

Institute of Archaeology, UCL London auf einer größeren Karte anzeigen

07. – 18. November 2011


Archaeological Soil Micromorphology Training – or Let’s integrate natural science into humanities!


Besides the famous Prime Meridian and several other nice distractions London can offer, the city is also home of an exceptional interdisciplinary Archaeological Institute at the University College London. The interdisciplinary is realized by the existence of related subjects like e.g. geoarchaeology which is treated from an archaeological point of view. Underneath this headline students of archaeological science are offered a closer look to archaeological stratigraphy via the sub-subject ‘soil micromorphology‘. It can be roughly described as a topic which investigates micro-structures of natural and anthropogenic layers of soil. As many other documentation and analysis methods in archaeology, this approach has also been borrowed from geographical sciences but becomes modified, likewise the other subjects, to meet archaeological research questions. The subject has just recently introduced in German archaeological science in fact since the constitution of a Junior professorship of Geoarchaeology at the Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen in 2010. Hence, the workshop at UCL given by Richard Macphail was a great chance to attend one of the rare workshops which are held world-wide in ‘Archaeological Soil Micromorphology’.

Richard is not only a very well experienced researcher he also owns a huge world-wide archive of thin-sections consisting of several kinds of soil, coprolites, mummy intestines etc. from periods running from Palaeolithic caves in Greece to the Middle Age in Europe and modern periods in Asia.


Therefore, joining a workshop held by Richard provides:


  • for archaeologists: a close insight into the subject and
  • geographers and pedologists: additional knowledge of archaeological micro-features.

Hence, from my point of view the workshop turned out to be a great opportunity to get a closer look at the micro-stratigraphy of my last excavation (see Ostia Antica 2011) where I took several samples which had been cut and prepared as thin-section of high quality by mfactory/Potsdam.

I learned that not even for thin-section preparation but also for sample taking, an expert is needed or at least the advice of one. Furthermore, since an archaeologist cannot become a pedologist just in 2 weeks I would strongly recommend a close co-coperation between both subjects. On the other hand, within this short time I got an amazing amount of knowledge into the subject and I am looking forward to incorporate it into my thesis.


Certainly, each subject can add some information to the other and finally the interdisciplinary work comes to the most profitable result. The whole scenery finally reminds me on a talk held by Friedrich Lüth which was related to the recent discovery of the DNA relation of Neandertal to recent human kind (opening ceremony at EAA 2010,The 16th Annual Meeting). He stated that natural scientific results had in summary a much greater impact on the understanding of past human cultures as any archaeological ceramic typology.


Forthcoming events at this topic:


  • 01. February 2012, TALK Prof. Chris Miller (see the Event Calendar)  –
  • 08. – 14. July 2012, 14th International Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology (see the Event Calendar)




TOPOI Summerschool 2011 – Excavation “Ostia Antica”

TOPOI Summerschool 2011 – Ostia Antica auf einer größeren Karte anzeigen

27. August – 25. September 2011


Training Excavation SS2011

as part of the „TOPOI-Summerschool 2011“,


a sub-project of the „BKO Excavations (Berlin-Kent-Ostia)” in the Forum of Ostia Antica under the direction of PD Dr. Axel Gering (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) under the auspices of the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Ostia directed by Prof. A. Pellegrino) from 18. – 22.07.11 (introduction week in Berlin) and 29.08. – 23.09.11 (excavation in Ostia Antica – Main Forum).


Head of the sub-project and contact: Undine Lieberwirth M.A. (EXC TOPOI).


You can find a detailed description of the excavation’s aims here.




Journey to Ostia Antica

Text & Photographs by Juliane Bonneß


Early in the grey morning of Berlin, shortly after 8am we started our long roadtrip to Italy. After we picked up the last member of our group in Leipzig and bought some archaeological equipment that was needed, we reduced the breaks to the absolute necessary ones, heading towards Innsbruck. When we finally got there, around 6pm where the greatest and most friendly people of the world gave us a warm welcome, an absolutely awesome dinner (Pasta and also Strudel for dessert) and a Sightseeing Tour – some whine and cacao later we managed it to catch some sleep.

The breakfast was as perfect as the whole time there, but we had to leave knowing that there are almost 800km to go to Ostia Antica. But before we even started our tour towards Rome we had to visit somebody else, an old man we all have heard so much about – Ötzi. It was totally astonishing, even though we’ve all seen a lot of pictures of this old man, it was really awesome to actually see the mummy and the museum is really well organized. So – if you ever have the possibility to go to Bozen (Museum of Archaeology of South Tyrol), do it! But as already mentioned, we where in a hurry. About an hour and a drivers change later we where back on the road again. Long story short – at 20:39 we arrived at our temporary home, visited the other archaeologists we will see in the field again tomorrow, drank some local wine, tried to tetris all the stuff we brought with us in our mobilehome and talked about our plans tomorrow. Yup. Busybusy day. But who needs sleep anyways?



Trip to Rome [2nd September]


Text & Photographs by Juliane Bonneß


Getting up at 4:30am after working the whole week worked surprisingly well, even though we knew that its a long way to the train station in the dark with the big equipment case. After a short trip with by train we entered the Forum Romanum and climbed up to the temple of Venus where the geophysicists wanted to fly a kite due to the purpose of being able to take top view pictures of the columns (N).


Unfortunately there was just no wind, all calm still after an hour we decided to wait. Attempts to convince the museum employee came to nothing. But at least we were able to visit the whole forum for free which take us a few hours.It was absolutely amazing that we had a classical archaeologist with us who threw some facts, worth that we starved like hell in the end. So it was about time for the first of many breaks to come. As an impression we went to the Pantheon, ate icecream, saw the Hadrians column, Fountain of the Four Rivers, an exhibition of air crafts, a lot of cafes and restaurants, the Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth), the Trevi Fountain, Circus Maximus and the list goes on. Understandable we were awfully tired after the trip when we were back at home around 7pm. But we finished the day with good pasta and a short cool off in the pool.


Excavation – a Summary after a week


Text & Photographs by Juliane Bonneß


Actually its going pretty well. The standard problems of the technique just lasted for the first days and after that we brought routine to the work flow surprisingly fast, although its just the four of us and we have to carry and keep in mind a lot of stuff.

So far we measured all the points we need for the excavation with the Tachymeter and the targets for the Laserscanner, created a general plan for the site and created a 3D model of the western Porticus (near the main Forum) our two sections are in. The geophysicists did there Radar Scan of the sections, but we decided not to look upon their results so that the excavation will be impartial. The Octocopter flight succeed after the third try. All things considered we should be and we are quite satisfied.

Second Week of excavation

Text & Photographs by Juliane Bonneß

Team two arrived at Sunday and got directly from the airport to the excavationplace to start working, advised by team one.

We tried to figure out a new way to improve the workflow and the communication. It seems to take time but after hanging out together in the evening and using half a day just to check the details of every step in the documentation it gets better and anybody knows their position in the process by now. Even though there is a lot of work to be done sometimes you just cantcompletely avoid the some breaks forced by all the technology we are using. But at Wednesday we could finally start to dig and its going pretty well so far, seemed that we mastered the soft- and hardware.

HP left us and we could stand the fact just because we know that we will see him again in Berlin. We cant thank him enough for the great and funny company and for all the knowledge he passed through the awesome talks in the evening.Also the results of the Octocopter flights are amazing and we cant wait to see the rest of the photogrammetry models that haven’t been processed yet.

Trip to Naples – Pompeii

Text & Photographs by Juliane Bonneß


As early as always we packed our things together to make our way to Pompeii soon enough to visit the huge site. Luckily our driver stayed awake and with just one break we found ourselves almost instantly at the bottom of vesuvius, facing Pompeii. For being Archaeologists some of our group got in for free, but after some negotiation. We agreed for taking Audio Guides instead of a tour guide and looking back that was a good decision, because after the main forum the group slitted and everybody explored the ancient city on their own.

After meeting some hours later we figured that nobody has seen every-everything but we were all deeply impressed but also hungry and exhausted. So we drove to the Vesuvian Institute where food and beds were waiting for us.

So far so good. But the way up the hill was more difficult than expected, understated friendly spoken – we got the feeling that there would have been a lot of possible accidents in some alternate reality but luckily everyone stayed unharmed in the weird Naples traffic and the people were awkwardly friendly although it took a while to recognize that they wanted to help us instead of being mad (because Mario blocked the whole street) – must have been the language. So when we finally arrived at the Vesuvian Institute the 3course menu was about to be served. Awesome!

Trip to Napels – Stabiae

Text & Photographs by Juliane Bonneß


We slept like logs and had a simple but good breakfast although the coffee was awful, but fortunately there were alternatives, so that we had some when we met our tour guide, an archaeologist who works for the Vesuvian Institute, also lives there and knows Stabiae pretty well . He agreed to show us the site., so basically the huge villas (San Marco and Arianna), just a part of what the city was like in roman times.

The rest hasn’t been excavated for different reason, but we got a good impression that there is still so much to discover, so much work to be done for the next years and way beyond, although its amazing what these guys already accomplished.Walking through the villas one can easy imagine how it was like centuries ago when only the richest of the richest roman citizens could afford to put up such buildings. Thus the place is not as crowded as Pompeii we could take our time to look at every detail and ask all the questions. We learned a lot about the different styles and our guide was gorgeous.



Time was too short to visit the Herculaneum or the National ArchaeologicalMuseum of Naples as we originally wanted to, so we decided to go back to home sweet home Ostia. Bernhard, whom we worked together with the last week( to learn something about a different photogrammetry method) left in a hurry, so that we weren’t able to say good bye, but we’ll meet again in Berlin. So… the wonderful weekend is over, lets see how next week goes.

The TEAM- Introduction

Text by Lilli Janotte


As already mentioned in the introduction we aim for the most effective, feasible and cheap way to document an excavation.
The methods we examine are quite interdisciplinary and we had several experts who worked with us and collected data. Now it’s time to list our cooperation partners.
During the first week of excavation two geophysicists Rudi and Burkart from “eastern atlas” analysed the soil structure:



Also Hape from Topoi spent a week in Ostia Antica in order to create a spatial picture of the excavation site. He works with an “octocopter”- an aerial drone that takes pictures while it is flying. On the 4th of September he gave a presentation about this special method.



The work of Bernie is similar to Hape’s but instead of flying a drone he takes pictures by hand. He is a Ph.D student and also a member of Topoi. He gave us input on the 6th of September right after Undine told us about Topoi and the aims of “TOPOI-Summerschool 2011”.




The –so far- last presentation was held by Chris, a student from the University of Leipzig, on the 7th of September. He prepared a workshop on “Harris Matrix”. Interesting to see what difficulties also the “old hands” had… 😉


Excavation- update! 😉

Text by Lilli Janotte



After four respectively three weeks of excavation today is our last day at the site. There are a lot things to do in order to prepare the departure. But more about this later.


Last week we tried to optimize the work flow. It got better and better the more we got used to the instruments but there were still these gaps when almost the whole team had nothing to do. So we ended up opening a new grid to work on if nothing else was to do. It turned out that this grid was quite interesting.


At the end of the week we received another visitor: an archaeologist from Jordan who wants to gain experience with the laser scanner.


The hole weekend was leisure time and most of us spent our time on visiting Rome. It was marvelous.


This week we just scraped off the last layers and had some nice finds. Kiki found a ring of bronze- probably- in grid 2, in grid 3 we discoverd some fine pottery and the team of grid 1 wonders at some wall structures.


So we are all rather busy, thinking about Harris Matrices and false measuring points.


CAA 2011 – Revive the Past

CAA 2011 – Conference Venue auf einer größeren Karte anzeigen


12. – 16. April 2011







  • Cave recycling


  • Az-Zantur



  • Petra Impressions


  • Little Petra

Wutai Shan




kubit Workshop 3D Laserscanning & Analysis

View Larger Map


28 March 2011


The second workshop was focused on the analysis of 3D pointclouds via kubit software.

However, before one can analyse data one has to acquire them. So firstly we got a demonstration of the latest model of FARO Fokus 3D a very economical, light and easy to handle device =


Part 1: Scanning by using most modern technology.


Due to an elaborated interface between the scan software and AutoCAD the data can be processed nearly in time by a simultaneous registration and digitalization.

After processing the data, which is always an individual process concerning the used hardware and software, the workshop headed towards the topic I was mainly interested in – the analysis workflow with kubit software.


Part 2: From a rough scan to a ready result


The analyzing process was performed with AutoCAD 2011 and the latest PointCloud version by kubit. AutoCAD can load 2 bil. points in a ptg-format. kubit is still using the ptc-format which is much more flexible in use. Several examples were performed:


Task 1: digitizing an octagonal roof

–          “Mulitschichten erzeugen”: it cuts throughout a PointCloud volume object -> it results in several layers which can be digitized separately

–           Via “Modellieren” one can use all layers to generate a surface = a substitute for mashing


Task 2: generation of a ground plan/map

–          Generate a ground map including measurement via digitizing of a certain layer cut out of the pointcloud


Task 3: introduction to PlanarView – free kubit software for kubit customers

–          Transformation from 3d pointcloud 2d vector data including live connection to AutoCAD


Finally, we could aim our questions and wishes direct to the software developers.

For download material and further information please contact kubit.