Archaeological Time Machine?? Think, POSSIBLE.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see an archaeological site and the former inhabitants as if you traveled into the past? Well this is as close as it gets! Some of you may be familiar with the technology called “CAVE“, an interactive, virtual 3D environment. I find it interesting in which individuals from Brown University are using this technology with in archaeology.

LINK to CAVE project

VIDEO of the technology in action

I think utilizing such a technology could absolutely enhance those studying archaeology as well as many other fields. In archaeology preservation is a main concern. By creating a virtual replication of an archaeological site you are in a sense creating a visual archive. For example, if the site happened to be destroyed by a natural disaster, it can be forever archived virtually. I find this to be a HUGE advantage for archaeology. Also instead of having to travel physically to the actual site many researchers could study the site using this virtual reality. Although the virtual reconstruction is not precisely identical, it further broadens the attempts of preserving the site, creates instantaneous accessibility feasible, and the site is then virtually preserved for observation in the near or far future.


1. What are your thoughts?

2. How would you use this technology in your field?

3. Do you think this technology is beneficial to the field of archaeology?

Thank you! Hope to hear feedback!

Ashley Brown


12 responses to “Archaeological Time Machine?? Think, POSSIBLE.

  1. Thank you! I actually found out yesterday that my campus has one of these simulators. I am thinking about doing something with the technology regarding a dig in S. Jordan I have this April/May. I might as well go ahead and get started a few years early on my senior project. ha ha.

  2. It likely won’t be too long until archeological sites are computer-modelled in 3D… just put on your data goggles and gloves and take a ‘virtual stroll’ through a site from anywhere in the world! Getting a real sense of the ‘surround’ of a location is going to be important I think. After all, the whole point (at least a large part) of the exercise is to try to get a feel for the PEOPLE who actually lived there!

    Another recent tool that’s proved invaluable is Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). Everything from ancient riverbeds to roads to whole unsuspected villages and towns have been found that way! It’s an exciting time to be in the field! Lucky you! ;-}

    • ha ha yeah. We have been using GPR for quite some time now. However it doesn’t work very well in my time period and region. Natural resources can distort the image that is sent back. But it is definitely a beneficial technology none the less. 🙂

  3. Hi – I did read Dr. Bar-Yosef’s “The Natufian Culture in the Levant, Threshold to the Origins of Agriculture”. Quite interesting and well written. I even learned a new word: “palynological” (seeds, spores, &c) 😉

    It’s hard for us today to look at most areas of the Levant and see beyond a barren, rocky wasteland. My first impression is ‘why on earth would ANYONE ever want to live HERE??’… it makes most of Arizona (where I lived for a long while) look positively LUSH! As Bar-Yosef documents though, the climate was much friendlier around 10,000 BCE (bad joke there)… as the Ice Ages ended. But it WAS much more amenable to foraging slowly becoming a tending of ‘choice spots’ to eventually moving to actual agriculture and selective breeding.

    Because of the hilly geography, we’re never looking at really large fields or anything like we’d recognise as ‘modern’ agriculture… In fact, I picture some of these people sort of ‘slipping into’ a grain-based sedentary life-style while the climate was kind enough to make growing things easy (ie: enough water!) . Hunting and gathering would continue in parallel as always, but seasonal ‘home bases’ would become more common. It doesn’t take but a generation or two to breed noticeably improved grains like wheat. I’ll bet most of it wasn’t really ‘planned’ at all… it just sort of ‘happened’.

    A similar scenario took place in the Americas (in SOME areas). It would have been sporadic and climate/soil dependent. Here the grain was overwhelmingly Maize (‘corn’). And it drove the rise of the Mississippi ‘Mound Builders’ and the Mesoamerican cultures… but many others stuck with the ‘freer’ hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    I’ve put up a bunch of articles this weekend written over the last couple of years that you might enjoy browsing… The only one that directly relates to the Levant/Sinai area is ‘Another Fine Myth’ post which savages the Hebrew ‘exodus’ story.


  4. addendum: There’s a real synergy at work in the movement to a sedentary agriculture lifestylle I think. It wouldn’t take long to get into the habit of a ‘summer base’ in the cool hills to graze the growing herds, and a ‘winter base’. You’d stay near your crops to keep them weeded and watered and to discourage birds and animals (and people?) from making off with your crop. These ‘bases’ would become more ‘comfortable’ and permanent over time. The rapid evolution of the grains themselves illustrates how rapidly this change could have occurred under the right conditions. The first (wild) maize in the New World was pretty unlikely looking too. But within only a few (human) generations it was becoming a dietary mainstay.

    Even in hunter-gatherer societies, there is some division of labour. Beyond the obvious male and female roles, there was usually a guy who was especially good at spears and knives (and arrows a bit later). Likewise most groups had a more or less ‘crazy’ ;-} person who became the ‘shaman’. With agriculture, specialisation would rapidly increase (there is more to specialise AT!)… and sure enough, the inevitable stratification of society as things got more and more complicated. Given the rather loose conditions required, it seems almost inevitable… bearing with it the gifts of ‘higher civilisation’… like WAR.

    • Thank you for your very detailed and entertaining responses. I apologize for the belated reply. I had been busy with finals and then traveling for the holidays. As for the subject of the Natufian culture.. I did receive an ‘A’ on my term paper and final grade. I appreciate your reading suggestions, I in fact cited one of them within my essay.

      On the other hand, responses are greatly appreciated and flattering. It’s nice to know I am just not talking to myself. ha ha. Despite my original purpose of creating this blog to fulfill a requirement for a digital humanities course, I plan to continue. If you have any ideas or suggestions for future topics, feel free to share. I am currently writing a new post regarding common misconceptions regarding archaeologists. I hope readers find the content comical as well as informative. Keep reading! 🙂

      Thanks again,


  5. Pingback: Final Project: Archaeology and the Age of Technology | Introduction to Digital Humanities·

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