Shared goals, explored through trial and error, have led disparate research and educational organizations to work together in productive modes, jointly where desirable, individually where possible. The Brown University, Division of Engineering, Laboratory for Man/Machine Systems (LEMS), the Brown University Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, the nonprofit educational outreach Institute for the Visualization of History, Williamstown, MA, and archaeologists at Tel Aviv University, Israel, in recent years have established a working relationship. The results have been important accomplishments in both computervision/pattern-recognition (CVPR) research in core-mainstream and new directions, as well as in new digital archaeology research directions. This proposal will result in: major contributions to core CVPR research; an interactive data-collection/visualization/geometric information-extraction/results-storage system; and major paradigmshifts in archaeological research concepts, methodologies, and results.
The grant focuses on four highly interdependent categories: 1) Semiautomatic development of an internet accessible archaeological space-time excavation-site database containing both traditional information about findings, and images, video, and extracted 3D representations and geometry; 2) Automatic and Semiautomatic 3D object, fragment, and large architectural chunk surface and geometry estimation from moving and multiple stationary image and video cameras; 3) Automatic and semi-automatic re-assembly of objects, especially glass or ceramic, and large architectural structures and sites, specifically the Crusader Castle at Apollonia, Israel, from estimated 3D representations of their many fragments or architectural chunks; 4) Interactive tools and 3D immersion for the purpose of interacting with the database, manipulating fragments, objects, and architectural substructures to facilitate object and architectural structure re-assembly, making precise metric measurements at an archaeological site from remote locations, and facilitating collaborative research. Included in these is CVPR search tools for artifacts, objects or architectural structures based on decorative painting on the surface or 2D or 3D geometry, both within the database and across databases at different locations. The space-time database, populated by images and video taken by moving and stationary cameras, as well as reconstructed 3D shape provides a detailed reviewable history of site excavation, and also the results of subsequent processing of this data, and walkthroughs the user wants to save. Our work will focus on, but not necessarily be limited to, the Apollonia site in Israel (on the UNESCO list of the hundred most endangered sites).
Intellectual Merit: The preceding constitute a complete integrated system of four highly interdependent categories. Categories 2 and 3 are completely research, and 1 and 4 are partially research. They are all intellectual explorations individually, but more importantly developing this system as an integrated whole results in a system of exceptional power, one that is significantly more powerful, conceptually and functionally, than the sum of its four parts. As a system, the categories are developed from more global and fundamental perspectives, with better tools, and with an important, exciting test environment.
Science and Broader Impacts: The benefits to the discipline of archaeology are multiple and persuasive. These developing tools allow unprecedented access to and analysis of past human activity, with geometry providing the capability to recognize, visualize, and evaluate forms of material culture accurately, rapidly and (above all) non-destructively. The results of this grant will benefit not only the present applicants, but archaeological studies worldwide. The vital areas of Information Science benefitting directly from this research are: geometric learning, 2D and 3D shape theory, geometric inferencing from multiview images and video, pattern recognition and database design. The algorithms and software applicable to other applications, e.g. homeland security, remote collaboration, education, and entertainment. The clear potential for developing educational tools for students already attracted to archaeology, is also very compelling, and to begin this process we highlight one of our three specific math/archaeology projects for high school students for the purpose of exposing them to and exercising them on application of certain mathematical topics to certain archaeology site tasks. The engineering team has made major contributions to these areas, is currently heavily involved in this research, and will be initiating new directions from our past experience. The members of the archaeology team are distinguished researchers-educators who have been involved in aspects of computational archaeology, are heavily involved in excavation at Apollonia and interpretation there and elsewhere, and are eager to push in the new directions that the group has jointly proposed.