Photographs into Models: Documenting the World Trade Center Ship

By Carrie Fulton

If you attend any archaeology conference or glance through recent issues of journals, you will quickly see the extent to which photogrammetric documentation has become a part of an archaeologist’s toolkit. Take a few photos, import them to software, and hit go. Violà! You now have digital models of your site or object. Ok, so the steps are slightly more detailed, but with new technology, the interfaces and steps to producing accurate models are getting easier and less technical.

The benefits of digital recording are massive: increased speed of recording, preservation of three-dimensional information, geo-referenced data, digital preservation of contexts that are destroyed through the process of excavation, and easy dissemination of information. How can this technology be used effectively? And are there drawbacks? If so, how can they be mitigated?

Let’s look at the excavation and documentation of the remains of a late 18th-century ship discovered during the construction at the World Trade Center site in July 2010.

Figure 1: Remains of the World Trade Center Ship looking from the stern towards the retention wall. (Photo: K. Galligan)

Since the ship was found in one section of an active construction site, we had to move quickly so the timbers could be removed and construction could continue. Approximately 32 feet of the ship’s stern (back end) remained. However, a modern retention wall bisected the ship and destroyed evidence for much of the forward half of the ship except for a very small section of the bow (forward end) of the ship that was uncovered in August 2011 when the other side of the wall was cleared.

To capture the relationship between timbers we used laser scanning, photographs, videography, and sketches. This enabled us to give each timber a unique identification so that upon disassembly we could keep track of each piece and reconstruct the in situ relationship. Once removed from the site, we had more time to analyze the timbers, but the next step in the preservation of the ship hadn’t been determined. We were faced with the question: How do we record each timber accurately and quickly? We settled on an approach that combined traditional methods for documenting timbers with recent advances in photogrammetry to create three-dimensional digital recordings of the timbers.

Figure 2: Making a 1:1 tracing of a frame. (Photo: D. Fulton)

Traditionally, nautical archaeologists record the dimensions by tracing the timbers in 1:1 reproductions or making scaled drawings of each face (Figure 2). The advantage of this approach is the close examination and documentation of each face, noting patterns in fasteners, tool patterns, and any biological growth that might be indicative of post-depositional processes. However, this method is extremely time consuming, and there is the possibility for dimensions to be distorted in tracing (due to parallax) or in condensing information into a scaled drawing.

For the best use of resources and time, we made 1:1 tracings of the two sides of the frames where the ceiling planking and the outer planking were attached. This allowed us to record the arrangement in nail patterns, which is crucial to answering questions about whether the ship timbers had been repaired. To document the curves of the frames that are difficult to render in two dimensions, we used photogrammetry to generate three-dimensional models. For all other timbers of the ship, we also used photogrammetry rather than tracings.

Each timber still had its own data sheet with notations for tool marks, measurements, marine growth, and any other information that might aid in the reconstruction of the ship and its life history. However, the timber is now preserved in a digital record as a three-dimensional model. Creating a model involved a three-step procedure:

Figure 3: Drew Fulton photographs a frame which was imported into PhotoModeler Scanner.

STEP 1: Photograph the timber. For the version of PhotoModeler Scanner in 2010, stereo pairs of photographs were taken from each side of the object, with the photographer maintaining a 45-degree angle between the object and the camera. To aid in linking the photographs together, computer generated and coded dots were placed around the timber. We used push-pins to mark nails and other features so that they could be easily spotted in photographs. This allowed us to maintain the high degree of detail afforded by the tracing method while decreasing recording time.

Figure 4: 3D model of a timber created in PhotoModeler Scanner.

STEP 2: Generate 3D data. The photographs were then used to create a 3D model in PhotoModeler Scanner by first creating cloud data of the timber and then transforming the cloud data into a triangulated mesh. This mesh recorded the curves of the timbers and was exported into the NURBS modeling software Rhinoceros.

Figure 5: Reconstruction of the small deck.

STEP 3: Render into a model. Using Rhinoceros, a 3D image was created and nails were added following the locations of preserved nails. From this model, individual drawings can be produced to link the timber to information from field notes and examination in the lab. Additionally, these individual pieces were combined digitally in Rhinoceros to reconstruct the ship, using the aid of data from the laser scan.

Figure 6: Reconstruction of a frame in Rhinoceros.

The emphasis for us was integrating three-dimensional recording techniques with traditional measuring and documentation techniques to quickly and accurately record the ship and enable analysis when access to the actual timbers may not be possible. On the one hand, it is easy to see the benefits: it’s a fast process in the field, it preserves and records curves very well, it facilitates collaboration and dissemination of information with digital files that can be easily shared. On the other hand, we tend not to think about the costs associated with it: digital cameras with high resolution files requiring terabytes of storage, the possibility of having corrupt hard drives, and long hours and tedious manual work to render the digital data into final forms. Most significantly, while advances in digital technology enable better documentation, will these advances make our early attempts obsolete? For example, the version of PhotoModeler Scanner that we used has already been updated, no longer requiring stereo-photographs. Using the photographs from the World Trade Center Ship, I am eager to try rendering models using newer versions of software to see what these changes might mean for our data. However, what would happen if I could no longer open the software used to access the data?

The power of photogrammetric techniques lies in their integration with traditional techniques, using them alongside measurements and drawings to record the archaeological data. While it’s a helpful tool, we still need to future-proof our data. From the 3D models, we can still produce standard drawings and take measurements. By supplementing recordings in the field and tape measurements, this redundancy can help catch errors in recording while producing a complete visual record of the object.

While moving forward with new technologies and digital recording procedures, are we at risk of advancing too quickly? Is there a risk that we will no longer have the computer programs or software to open these files and thus render our documentation obsolete? Or, is this a way of ‘future-proofing’ our data?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Archaeologists at AKRF, INC., Diane Dallal, Michael Pappalardo, Elizabeth Meade, and Molly McDonald, managed the excavation of the site for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). The principle investigation of the ship was led by Warren Riess (University of Maine) and Carrie Fulton (Cornell University). Drawings were made by Kathleen Galligan. Drew Fulton (Drew Fulton Photography) photographed onsite panoramas and the timbers for photogrammetry. Timbers were initially stored at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory and are now held in the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University. The LMDC and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey provided funding for this project.

Check out the other #TechWeek Posts:

Tech Week: Photography in Archaeology by Jonathan Libbon
Going Interactive Underwater by Drew Fulton
Preservation Photography: Roles and Rules by Karen Price

SHA 2015 Seattle Preliminary Program Part 2: Roundtable Luncheons and Public Archaeology Session

A continuation of the events at the 2015 SHA conference in Seattle:

ROUNDTABLE LUNCHEONS

The roundtable luncheons are scheduled from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday and Friday. A minimum of six participants per table applies to all roundtables. Maximum of 10 participants for each roundtable. All roundtable luncheons will cost $30.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

RL-1 Jobs in Nautical Archaeology

Leader: Paul Johnston (Smithsonian Institution)

What are the different job types and career tracks in nautical archaeology? This discussion will examine public archaeology (NOAA, National Park Service, MMS, Parks Canada, state programs, etc.), private-sector cultural resource management (contract archaeology, consulting), private foundations, academic positions and museum work (public and private), and treasure hunting. We’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of these various enterprises, as well as prospects in these fields.

RL-2 Public Archaeology in the Pacific Northwest

Leader: Doug Wilson (Northwest Cultural Resources Institute and Ft. Vancouver National Historic Site)

Participants will discuss public archaeology programs in the Pacific Northwest, including the use of field schools, public engagement events, and archaeology month programs. Participants will explore ways of engaging the public and descendant communities and means to evaluate programs for effectiveness.

RL-3 The Archaeology of World War II

Leaders: Stacey Camp (University of Idaho) and Jodi Barnes (University of Arkansas, Arkansas Archeological Survey)

This session will explore the historical archaeology of World War II. Potential discussion topics will include artifact identification, methodological challenges, useful theoretical models for interpreting World War II archaeological sites, and artifact patterning across different types of sites.

RL-4 Numismatic Archaeology  

Leader: James C. Bard (Cardno ENTRIX)

The intent of the luncheon is to bring together professionals interested in the recovery and interpretation of coins and tokens from archaeological sites. The roundtable hopes to promote greater understanding of the interpretive potential of coins and tokens, as there is more to these artifacts than simple description and dating. The luncheon is an opportunity to explore the many interpretive possibilities of coins and to connect with others who are working with this common, yet under analyzed, class of material culture.

Friday, January 9, 2015

RL-5 How to Get Published in Historical Archaeology

Leader: Meredith Morris-Babb (University Press of Florida)

This roundtable luncheon will offer some practical advice to prospective authors on navigating the publication process from submission to publication. The format is flexible and participants should feel free to come with questions or concerns. Possible topics can include the peer review process, publication ethics, marketing and social media, and the logistics of digital publishing.

RL-6 Exploring Chinese Healthcare Practices through an Archaeological Lens

Leader: Sarah Heffner (PAR Environmental Services)

Small, aqua Chinese medicine vials are ubiquitous on Asian American archaeological sites and are frequently viewed as the most representative type of material culture associated with Chinese medicinal practices. Interpretation of these vials in the archaeological literature is often limited, and they receive little mention other than as entries in an artifact catalog as “Chinese medicine bottle,” or “Chinese medicine vial.” In reality, Chinese medical practitioners utilized a wide range of medical devices and ingredients (plant, animal, mineral) for both internal and external applications. Only fairly recently have historical archaeologists begun to include discussions of other forms of material culture and faunal/floral remains that may.

RL-7 Tips for Finding a Job in Archaeology

Leader: William A. White, III (University of Arizona)

What do you need to do to land your dream job in archaeology? That is a question most archaeologists spend their entire careers answering. From the entry-level archaeological technician to the most venerated professor, we all need to learn how to find and successfully land a job in our chosen career field. In this luncheon, we will discuss the three most important things you need in order to land an archaeology job: deciphering job postings, writing a killer resume and cover letter, and building your professional network. Attendees should bring a copy of their resume and an example of a job posting for a position that they would like to have. Be prepared to build a strategy for career success.

RL-8 Historical Archaeology and CRM in the Pacific Northwest: Challenges and Opportunities

Leader: Lorelea Hudson (SWCA Environment Consultants) and Robert Weaver (Environmental History Co.)

Historical archaeologists working in the Pacific Northwest face challenges that are somewhat unique to the region. We have few people working in CRM who were directly trained in an academic historical program. In addition, politicians and bureaucrats focus almost exclusively on prehistory as archaeology. Even among practicing professionals, there is a bias against historical sites, in part due to the fact that our sites are “too recent”-mostly from the 1850s onward. Compliance review processes are inconsistent, and the laws are antiquated. The intent of this luncheon is to bring together professionals working in CRM from various parts of the country to discuss how we might begin to address some of these problems and work towards raising consciousness and improving standards for historic sites in the Northwest Plenary Session.

 

PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY SESSION

The Public Archaeology Session will be held on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington, in conjunction with its annual Public Archaeology Day.

Archaeology Day is a family-friendly event featuring Northwest archaeologists, educational displays, and activities geared toward a general audience.  The Burke has produced this event annually for over 12 years and it regularly draws more than 600 visitors to the museum. SHA- registered guests are admitted free to the Burke Museum, with their conference credentials, anytime during the week of the conference. This event will open at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:00 p.m.

Bus service will be provided between the Sheraton Seattle and the Burke Museum. A bus will depart the Seattle Sheraton on the hour between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for the Burke and will depart the Burke Museum on the half hour between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for return to the Sheraton.

SHA 2015 Seattle: Preliminary Program

The SHA 2015 Seattle preliminary program is available and online registration is now open until December 19, 2014!

Registration

                                  Until 12/1/14    After 12/1/14       
SHA Member:                    $180               $205
Non-Member:                     $280               $305
SHA Student Member:      $85                 $110
Student Non-Member:       $140               $165
Guest:                                $50                 $75

Online: www.sha.org
Until December 19, 2014: The link to the online registration system for the SHA 2015 Conference is posted the SHA website homepage. Instructions on how to register online are available on the website.

Fax: 866.285.3512
Please submit your completed registration form with your credit card payment information to SHA by December 19, 2014.

Mail
Please submit your completed registration form and payment information (check or credit card) by December 19, 2014 to:

Society for Historical Archaeology
13017 Wisteria Drive #395
Germantown, MD 20874 USA

Conference Facilities and Hotel Accommodations
Sheraton Seattle Hotel
1400 Sixth Avenue Seattle, WA 98101

Phone Reservations: 1-800-204-6100

Online Reservations to Receive Conference Hotel Room Rate: https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/StarGroupsWeb/booking/reservation?id=140 8270530&key=12D5B991

A limited number of rooms are available at the conference rate for single and double occupancy are $129 plus tax (15.6%) and a $2 per night tax assessment fee. Hotel amenities include an indoor pool and fitness center, bar and restaurants in the hotel, valet parking, and in-room hair dryer, safe, coffeemaker, and iron/ironing board. Note: the hotel has free wireless Internet in the hotel lobby or in-room Internet for a fee.

The “cutoff date” for reserving rooms in the SHA Room Block at the negotiated room rate is 5:00 p.m. PST on Thursday, December 4, 2014. Rooms are filling up fast, so if you wish to stay at the conference hotel at the conference rate, reserve your room soon!

Student Volunteer Positions are Available

Are you a student planning to attend the 2015 SHA conference in Seattle?

If so, you can receive free registration if you sign up to be a volunteer! For more information on volunteering and requirements for free registration, please visit the SHA annual meetings page and scroll down to SHA 2015 Volunteer Form.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email the volunteer director at SHA2015Volunteer@gmail.com

The Conference: Workshops and Tours

The 2015 conference will have FOUR preconference workshops. All workshops will be held on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

W-01: Excavating the Image: The MUA Photoshop Workshop
Host: T. Kurt Knoerl (The Museum of Underwater Archaeology)
This Photoshop workshop covers basic photo-processing techniques useful to historians and archaeologists. We will cover correcting basic problems in photos taken underwater and on land, restoring detail to historic images, and preparation of images for publications. We will also cover the recovery of data from microfilm images such as handwritten letters. No previous Photoshop experience is needed, but you must bring your own laptop with Photoshop already installed on it (version 7 or newer). While images used for the workshop are provided by me, feel free to bring an image you’re interested in working on. Warning … restoring historic images can be addictive!
Full-day workshop: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Maximum enrollment: 25
Cost: $80 for members, $105 for nonmembers, $50 for student members, and $70 for student nonmembers

W-02: Archaeological Illustration
Host: Jack Scott
Want your pen-and-ink drawings to look like the good ones? Pen and ink is all basically a matter of skill and technique which can be easily taught, and the results can be done faster and cheaper, and are considerably more attractive, than the black-and-white illustrations done on computer. Workshop participants will learn about materials and techniques, page design and layout, maps, lettering, scientific illustration conventions, problems posed by different kinds of artifacts, working size, reproduction concerns, ethics, and dealing with authors and publishers. A reading list and pen and paper (tracing vellum) will be provided, but feel free to bring your own pens, tools, books, and, of course, questions. Be ready to work!
Full-day workshop: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Maximum enrollment: 30
Cost: $85 for members, $110 for nonmembers, $50 for student members, and $70 for student nonmembers

W-03: Underwater Cultural Heritage Resources Awareness Workshop
Host(s): The Advisory Council for Underwater Archaeology
Cultural resource managers, land managers, and archaeologists are often tasked with managing, interpreting, and reviewing archaeological assessments for submerged cultural resources. This workshop is designed to introduce nonspecialists to issues specific to underwater archaeology. Participants will learn about different types of underwater cultural heritage (UCH) sites, and the techniques used in Phase I and II equivalent surveys. This workshop is not intended to teach participants how to do underwater archaeology, but will introduce different investigative techniques, international best practices, and existing legislation. The purpose of this workshop is to assist nonspecialists in recognizing the potential for UCH resources in their areas of impact, budgeting for UCH resource investigations, reviewing UCH resource assessments, developing interpretive strategies, and providing sufficient background information to assist in making informed decisions regarding UCH resources.
Full-day workshop: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Maximum enrollment: 25
Cost: $80 for members, $105 for nonmembers, $50 for student members, and $70 for student nonmembers

W-4: GMAC Anti-Racism Workshop
Hosts: Flordeliz T. Bugarin (Howard University), Michael S. Nassaney (Western Michigan University), and Dr. Emily Drew (Crossroads)
The Gender and Minority Affairs Committee, with the support of the SHA Board, has worked to identify racism in our organization and profession, develop strategies to transform our society, and strive towards a more diverse archaeological community. We recognize that a lack of diversity within our organization has negative outcomes on every member, and as such should be a central concern for all of us. In this effort and in collaboration with Crossroads, we have organized this workshop to show SHA members how to develop a systemic analysis of racism. The goal will be to assist us (both as individuals and as a society) in beginning and strengthening our institutional interventions against racism. During this workshop, trainers from Crossroads will expose SHA members to a common language and mode of analysis, which will in turn assist us in forming a transformation team to develop effective long- term strategies. Participants will learn how to develop and use a common language about racism, as well as a shared definition. We will discuss how to understand racism as a systemic issue in the United States and by extension throughout the world-and not only as an issue of individual attitudes and actions. We will also discuss the racialization of our discipline, both historically and in our contemporary practices of pedagogy and scholarship. A major goal of this workshop is to understand how racism and other policies act as barriers specifically to an all-inclusive SHA. This workshop will in turn explore approaches to dismantling racism that can provide the foundation for institutional interventions against systemic racism. Registration is free of charge, but space is limited, so please register in advance using the option provided on the conference registration form.
Afternoon Workshop: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Maximum enrollment: 40
Cost: Free of charge

Tours

This year’s Conference offers FIVE exciting tours. All tours will be held on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

(T-1) Behind the Scenes Tour at the Burke Museum
Join the museum’s curators and explore the Burke Museum Archaeology Collections, which include more than one million objects from around the world and focus on cultural materials from the Pacific Rim. The Burke is best known for its collections of artifacts from the Lower Columbia River and the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

Three groups of 10 people each will receive a personal tour as follows:
• Group 1: Leave the Sheraton at 9:30 a.m., tour: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon; return to Sheraton at 12:30 p.m.
• Group 2: Leave the Sheraton at 10:30 a.m.; tour: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; return to Sheraton at 1:30 p.m.
• Group 3: Leave the Sheraton at 11:30 a.m.; tour 12:00 noon – 2:00 p.m.; return to Sheraton at 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $30 per person (includes transportation and admission to the Burke)

(T-2) Washington State Wine and Beer Tour
Tour Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery and enjoy a sample of its award-winning wines. Then you’ll travel a short distance to the Redhook Brewery for a walk-through of the state-of-the-art brewery, information about Redhook history, an overview of the brewing process, a tasting of some of Redhook’s beers, and a souvenir glass! There will also be time for lunch at your own expense at the Brewery’s Forecaster Pub.

Tour start time: 10:00 a.m. The bus will depart from the Sheraton and will return at 4:00 p.m. In the event of extremely inclement weather, the tour will be canceled and your fee refunded. Dress appropriately!

Maximum number of participants: 50

Cost: $50 per person (includes transportation and tour/ tasting fees at Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Redhook Brewery)

(T-3) Seattle Underground
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is a leisurely, guided, 75-minute, walking tour beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets. As you roam the subterranean passages that once were the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle, your guides will regale you with the stories our pioneers didn’t want you to hear. It’s history with a twist! The tour begins inside Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1890s saloon. Following a short intro, you’ll walk through historic Pioneer Square to three different sections of Underground-about three blocks in all.

Tour start time: 2:00 p.m. The entrance to the Underground Tour is at 608 First Avenue in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, between Cherry Street and Yesler Way and approximately 1 mile (12 blocks) from the Sheraton Seattle. Transportation will NOT be provided with this tour.

Cost: $14 for adults (18-59 years old), $12 for students (with valid ID), $12 for seniors (60+). (These are discounted prices for the SHA tour.)

(T-4) Whidbey Island Tour
Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve is an historic rural landscape that includes stunning panoramas, historical communities, Fort Casey and Fort Ebey State Parks, and lands farmed by the descendants of families who filed Donation Claims in the 1850s. The reserve is located north of Seattle on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound and is unique within the National Park Service because most of the land is privately owned. A partnership of the landowners-federal, state, town, and county-provide support to the current community in the preservation of their cultural and natural legacy. This historic rural landscape preserves direct connections to many layers of Pacific Northwest history-Coast Salish peoples, English explorers and traders, American farmers and sea captains, and Chinese farmers. Whidbey Island is the largest jewel in the Puget Sound’s island crown. You’ll travel to Whidbey via bus and ferry. Lunch will be on your own at one of the restaurants on the island.

Tour start time: 9 a.m. The tour bus will depart from the Sheraton and will return by 5:00 p.m. In the event of extremely inclement weather, the tour will be canceled and your fee refunded. Dress appropriately!

Maximum number of participants: 50

Cost: $50 per person

(T-5) Beaux Arts and Art Deco Seattle Walking Tour

During the first quarter of the 20th century, Seattle, “Gateway to the Orient,” could boast of international trade, up-to-date skyscrapers, a thriving entertainment district, and a planned commercial center that would be the envy of other cities. This tour shows off brick- and terra-cotta- clad skyscrapers, private clubs, financial and banking headquarters, and commercial buildings, which expressed the confidence and sophistication of Seattle’s builders. The tour will be led by Larry Kreisman, Honorary AIA Seattle, architectural historian, author, preservation consultant, and since 1997, Program Director for Historic Seattle. He is the author of several books on Seattle’s architecture and history.

Tour start time: 1:00 p.m. This tour will leave from the main entrance of the Sheraton Seattle. Tour will take two to three hours. In the event of extremely inclement weather, the tour will be canceled. Dress appropriately.

Maximum number of participants: 30

Cost: $15 per person