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Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice

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Discussion group for the members and faculty of the NEH Funded Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice ( organized by Michigan State University’s Department of Anthropology and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences

Heather McKillop: Underwater Maya feedback

This topic contains 5 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Heather McKillop 5 years, 11 months ago.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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    Daniel Pett

    Hi Heather,
    I’ve been assigned to mentor you for you excellent underwater project (which I still had the chance to do maritime work!) I think your project plan is pretty sound and you have a really good concept and knowledge of what you want to achieve. However, I do wonder whether you can achieve all of this in the timescale of the project unless you have some extra help – the dev work alone may be quite time consuming.

    You have a couple of questions within the text – for instance where you will be storing your 3D models. We’ve been hosting both MicroPasts and BM 3D content on Sketchfab – primarily because their platform is simply best in class and has an audience that is beyond the traditional archaeological niche. We also built our own 3D viewer for MicroPasts – code here, but we withdrew it as we felt we got better traction from Sketchfab. You could also archive your models with a digital repo as well or host them on github? I really look forward to seeing the 3D output!

    Which part of the project will you focus on delivering first – infrastructure or content? It sounds like you already have a lot of content at the ready from your work, so this sounds easy. Getting it into wordpress won’t be too difficult!

    Do ask if you need help with anything!


    Sebastian Heath

    Greetings All,

    I’m a late addition to the community but glad to be here.

    Heather, my initial question overlaps loosely with Dan’s, but is in the spatial realm.

    I agree that you want to get your data out of its currently proprietary setting. My sense is that you want to keep your archival version in UTM. But CartoDB – to the best of my knowledge – needs its data the WGS84 projection. Is this an issue you’ve thought about? Strategically, I’d put this under the generally important topic of: what are our archival formats, how nimbly can we convert them into formats that make use of contemporary tools for public display. Ideally there is no difference, but you might be facing this situation.

    Secondly and related, to what extent is WordPRess a capable tool for the display of archival data? Will you have to move resources into it by hand with attention to each page? If WordPress is being used to edit data, how will you get it out?

    One piece of advice: make sure you have full control of your WordPress installation, particularly the ability to install plug-ins. You may know this already, but it’s hugely important for any WordPress-based project so I’m taking this opportunity to say it aloud.

    Let me know if these initial comments are useful. We can continue to explore these issues or move on to other things if that’s best.



    Heather McKillop

    Hi Dan and Sebastian: Thank you both for advising me on the Underwater Maya digital archaeology project! Nice to meet you Sebastian. I appreciate both of your comments, which are timely.
    Dan: You are correct about the content not being a problem for the project. What I am focusing on is the infrastructure! Sebastian: Your comments about dealing with my current GIS and converting data to Cartodb are timely.

    Issue 1: convering UTM coordinate data to long/lat

    I have an excel spreadsheet of UTM coordinates of building posts (and artifacts, etc) that I use in my existing GIS (Geomedia by Intergraph/Hexagon).
    For the DAI Underwater Maya project, I am moving to open source, currently trying Cartodb, which I am liking. I am working on a test case of site 35, which is a small dataset with a nice rectangular building (outlined by posts). I converted UTM to long/lat using a web convertor “Engineering Toolbox” and the building outline looks good. I don’t know how to evaluate whether this is a good convertor.

    I found and used another web convertor and got slightly different long/lat results (decimal place diffs). That web site is . I haven’t mapped the data.
    Issue 2: Adding my 3D digital artifact scans: The digital records are now in good order, stored on an external hard drive, as well as remote storage. I am heartened that the British Museum trusts Sketchfab, which I like but to which I have not yet uploaded files. I think that’s a good option for my project, at least initially. I have also uploaded an stl image using Autodesk 360 to my “DIVA Lab” facebook page. I accessed it on someone else’s computer (who hasn’t installed Autodesk 360) and it worked fine. I tried it on my cell phone and it was AWKWARD so I gave up. Generally I have issues viewing my 3D files since they are stl or other file formats that have to be opened in special software. I have tried some free software “GOM” that allows me to view the files and manipulate the digital object.

    issue 3: WordPress.
    Thanks for your thoughts Sebastian! Instead of using the wordpress page on our dept web page, my plan was to install wordpress on my own web page, so I have control. I’m kind of leaving that part until later when I get the GIS working!

    Any suggestions on the conversion from UTM to long/lat?
    Classes don’t start until next Tuesday for me, so I have time to work on this!


    A.L. McMichael

    I just wanted to add a +1 for SketchFab. I was hesitant at first, but they replied really quickly to my request for the free upgrade to a Cultural Heritage account, and have been open to questions.


    Daniel Pett

    Heather – Python UTM convertor
    Re Sketchfab, they have been really +ve and helpful to lots of heritage people. The founder is nice and they have also built features we requested. Of course they need to make a profit and are VC backed, but I don’t really care 🙂 Mobile model viewing is brilliant.
    Re WordPress – agree with Sebs’ comments on having full control. Just be careful with server permissions and security. You will get hacking attempts. Shawn is familiar with the mess that leaves behind!


    Heather McKillop

    Thanks Dan for the Pyhon convertor. I will check that out.
    Re: WordPress: warnings about security noted!
    I am going to ask for a cultural heritage free upgrade on sketchfab and start uploading. Alice: glad you also are doing 3D scans and using Sketchfab.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

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