Augmented Reality Gets Real at National Museum

The UrbanWire, 22 April 2017 The National Museum of Singapore experiments with augmented reality exhibits.

Augmented reality at the National Museum of Singapore, UrbanWire
Using Google’s latest augmented reality (AR) technology, the National Museum of Singapore’s new addition, the Tango-enabled Architectural Tour, brings the legacy and history of the building to life.

Using indoor mapping, virtual reality and AR technology, visitors will be able to explore how the building has evolved over the past 130 years and virtually view artefacts that were once on display in the museum.

Source: Augmented Reality Gets Real at National Museum  – The UrbanWire

[Paper] The affinities of Homo floresiensis based on phylogenetic analyses of cranial, dental, and postcranial characters

This newly published paper by ANUs Debbie Argue has been making the news recently. A new analysis of the bones puts Homo floresiensis closer in time to Homo habilis than it does Homo erectus or Homo Sapiens, which suggests the the Hobbit’s lineage was more ancient than recent.

Although the diminutive Homo floresiensis has been known for a decade, its phylogenetic status remains highly contentious. A broad range of potential explanations for the evolution of this species has been explored. One view is that H. floresiensis is derived from Asian Homo erectus that arrived on Flores and subsequently evolved a smaller body size, perhaps to survive the constrained resources they faced in a new island environment. Fossil remains of H. erectus, well known from Java, have not yet been discovered on Flores. The second hypothesis is that H. floresiensis is directly descended from an early Homo lineage with roots in Africa, such as Homo habilis; the third is that it is Homo sapiens with pathology. We use parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic methods to test these hypotheses. Our phylogenetic data build upon those characters previously presented in support of these hypotheses by broadening the range of traits to include the crania, mandibles, dentition, and postcrania of Homo and Australopithecus. The new data and analyses support the hypothesis that H. floresiensis is an early Homo lineage: H. floresiensis is sister either to H. habilis alone or to a clade consisting of at least H. habilis, H. erectus, Homo ergaster, and H. sapiens. A close phylogenetic relationship between H. floresiensis and H. erectus or H. sapiens can be rejected; furthermore, most of the traits separating H. floresiensis from H. sapiens are not readily attributable to pathology (e.g., Down syndrome). The results suggest H. floresiensis is a long-surviving relict of an early (>1.75 Ma) hominin lineage and a hitherto unknown migration out of Africa, and not a recent derivative of either H. erectus or H. sapiens.

Source: The affinities of Homo floresiensis based on phylogenetic analyses of cranial, dental, and postcranial characters

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Frescoes being repaired in Bagan

Eleven Myanmar, 21 April 2017

Thein Lwin, deputy director-general of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, said: “The frescoes in the Myinkaba cave pagoda are one of the finest from the Bagan era. Thanks to the Unesco [UN cultural body], the frescoes look shinier than they were before. We will clean and take documents of the frescoes. The detailed work can take up to 10 days.”

The earthquake did not affect the frescoes in the cave but the ones in the stupa, a dome-shaped structure, above it.

Kyi Lin, a fresco expert at the department, said: “We worked together with the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] to maintain the Myinkaba frescoes in 1983. We contracted Unesco in 1975 after a 6.5-magnitude quake hit Bagan in July that year. Then we signed another contract in 1981. Then I went to Italy for six months to study frescoes. There shouldn’t be a gap between the wall and the masonry. You can find it out by knocking the surface of the relief. If a hollow sound returns, you know there is a gap and that it cannot withstand a tremor.”

Source: Frescoes being repaired in Bagan | Eleven Myanmar

[Talk] Green, Blue, and White: The Tang Shipwreck Ceramic and Precious Metal Cargo and Global Trade in Medieval Asia

In conjunction with the Belitung Shipwreck exhibition at the Asia Society in New York, John Guy will be giving a lecture on 22 May which will also be broadcast live on the web.

Scholar and curator John Guy explores the unique insights that shipwreck archaeology can bring to our understanding of historical trade and exchange in ancient Asia.

Source: Green, Blue, and White: The Tang Shipwreck Ceramic and Precious Metal Cargo and Global Trade in Medieval Asia | New York | Asia Society

[Paper] Emerging Applications of LiDAR / Airborne Laser Scanning in the Management of World Heritage Sites

Featuring recent work in Cambodia

Remotely sensed data and imagery have revolutionized the way we understand archaeological sites and landscapes. LiDAR / airborne laser scanning (ALS) has been used to capture the often subtle topographic remnants of previously undiscovered sites even in intensely studied landscapes, and is rapidly becoming a key technology in survey projects with large extents and/or difficult terrain. This paper examines the practical application of this technology to archaeological heritage management, with special attention given to how ALS can support the World Heritage List nomination process and management of WHS archaeological sites and landscapes. It presents a number of examples from published ALS studies alongside case studies from projects undertaken by the authors at Cultural Site Research and Management and the Cultural Site Research and Management Foundation, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The paper opens with a review of how ALS has been used at established World Heritage Sites, focusing on the Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend in the Boyne, Ireland, and the Angkor Archaeological Site in Cambodia. ALS applications for site prospection and demarcation, and viewshed analysis is explored in this section. Following this, we explore how ALS has been used to support two recent applications: the successfully nominated Monumental Earthworks at Poverty Point, USA and the recently nominated Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape in Moldova. We propose that the detail offered by ALS data greatly strengthens nomination dossiers by emphasizing the outstanding universal value of sites, highlighting significant features and providing greater context to wider landscapes, and is particularly efficacious in delineating site boundaries for legal protection and long-term management. Finally, we conclude with a look at some of the practical considerations involved in the use of ALS, including access and training.

Source: Emerging Applications of LiDAR / Airborne Laser Scanning in the Management of World Heritage Sites: Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites: Vol 18, No 4

[Talk] Learning from Ancient and Modern Trade in the Spice Islands of Eastern Island Southeast Asia

Prof Peter Lape will be talking about his work in the eastern Indonesian islands at UCLA on Wednesday.

In historical times between the 16th and 20th centuries, the so-called spice islands of what is now eastern Indonesia were a zone of intensive interisland and long distance maritime trade. Archaeological evidence suggests that this interaction intensity has a relatively long history, dating to the early Neolithic period 3,500 years ago. Today, the large and small islands in this area remains intensively interconnected, and some of this trade is done by people using traditional boats operating under sail or paddle. This paper will explore how we can apply data from these different realms (documentary history, archaeology and ethnography) to expand our understanding of island connectivity at different times in the past and present, with implications for the future.

Source: Learning from Ancient and Modern Trade in the Spice Islands of Eastern Island Southeast Asia

Prehistoric human skeleton found at Penang neolithic site

Malay Mail, 19 April 2017: Human remains have been found during construction at Guar Kepah in Penang, a known shell midden site that has been investigated previously. The construction in question is actually the gallery site that was to display information from previous excavations! The team from USM is now studying the bones.

Source: Prehistoric human skeleton found at Penang neolithic site | Malaysia | Malay Mail Online

See also: 5,000-year-old skeleton discovered at Guar Kepah construction site (New Straits Times/Yahoo, 19 April 2017)

[Job] Arts and Humanities at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

Closing Date is 18 June 2017

The School of Humanities and Social Science at CUHK(SZ) invites applications for a faculty position in arts and humanities at the Professor/Associate Professor/Assistant Professor level with prospect for tenure.

Junior applicants should have (i) a PhD degree (by the time of reporting duty) in the areas of social science, arts and humanities; and (ii) high potential in teaching and research.

Applicants should be able to teach a wide range of courses, especially in core areas of arts and humanities. Experience in supervising postgraduate students will be favorably considered.

Candidates for the Associate or Full Professor post are expected to have demonstrated academic leadership and strong commitment to the highest standard of excellence. Appointments will normally be made on contract basis for up to three years initially, leading to longer-term appointment or tenure later subject to mutual agreement. Exceptionally, appointment with tenure can be offered forthwith to candidates of proven ability.

The appointee is expected to commence work in the academic year of 2017-18.

Source: Professor / Associate Professor / Assistant Professor – Arts and Humanities at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

Fire guts building in Ayutthaya world heritage site | Bangkok Post: news

Bangkok Post, 17 April 2017: An interpretive learning center on the grounds of Ayutthaya’s Wat Phra Sri Sanphet burned down last week. The cause is as yet unknown.

AYUTTHAYA – A fire has destroyed a traditional Thai-style structure in the Unesco World Heritage Site in this central province.

Source: Fire guts building in Ayutthaya world heritage site | Bangkok Post: news