Digital Heritage as Disruptive Technology

Friday, May 4, 2018 - 8:30am to 12:30pm
Ambassador B
Disruptive technologies are technological innovations that upset existing networks supporting the ways that things have traditionally been done. This session explores how digital technologies are “disrupting” the ways we document, manage, access, and even perceive tangible and intangible heritage. What implications do such transformations have for heritage agencies, museums, Indigenous communities, and archaeologists? Topics of relevance include methodological advances in digitally capturing and mobilizing traditional knowledge; digitally preserving large and small-scale heritage sites using UAV’s and terrestrial laser scanners; using point cloud data to identify and track changes impacting heritage resources; designing and developing online archives and metadata schemes for managing digital heritage data; 3D replication and reconstruction of heritage resources; and virtual exhibits and online tours as tools for repatriating objects and knowledge. We are interested in papers exploring these and other theoretical and methodological issues surrounding digital heritage, and welcome case studies from across Canada and around the world.
  • Peter C. Dawson, University of Calgary
  • Scott Hamilton, Lakehead University
08:30 AM: Using Photogrammetry to Record a Rock Art Glph at Writing-On-Stone, Alberta
  • Bob Dawe - Royal Alberta Museum
  • Owen Murray - OMM Photography
One of the largest inventories of aboriginal rock art on the Plains occurs at Writing-On-Stone Park situated on the Milk River in southern Alberta.  Over one hundred rock art sites of varying complexity and content have been identified.  In all cases the petroglyphs and pictographs are fashioned onto the weathering sandstone bluffs and hoodoos that characterize the topography of this area.  Erosion continues to diminish this unique and important cultural resource.  Various methods of accurately recording the artwork have been undertaken over the last century, including drawing, tracing, photography, casting, and laser scanning, each of which poses certain challenges and limitations.  In this paper we evaluate the use of photogrammetry as a viable alternative to these other methods of recording rock art.  A case study is presented where photogrammetry was used to record an unusual petroglyph panel in a small rockshelter at the Haven site, DgOw-79.  The potential applications of photogrammetry for archaeology are vast and beyond the scope of this paper, but this study does demonstrate it is especially well suited for rock art study.  We believe the various benefits of photogrammetry should argue for this method of recording to be a regular consideration in the further documentation of this deteriorating resource. 
08:50 AM: Behind the Scenes of Digital Heritage: A Case Study of Brooks Aqueduct.
  • Christina Robinson - University of Calgary, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Peter  Dawson - University of Calgary, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Xiufeng Peng - University of Calgary, Department of Computer Science
  • Zahra Hadavand - University of Calgary, Department of Geomatics Engineering
  • Elisa Rubalcava - Historic Resources Management Branch, Alberta Culture and Tourism
  • Denis Gadbois - University of Calgary, Department of Art
Brooks Aqueduct is a unique structure that played a vital role in bringing large-scale agriculture to southern Alberta in the early 20th century. Three digital heritage products are playing fundamental roles in the management of this 3.2 km long structure. The first is a three-part monitoring tool that consists of; a Building Information Model (BIM), terrestrial laser scanning, and UAV photogrammetry. Secondly, a public digital archive is being produced for 3D datasets, and thirdly a virtual tourist destination composed of modern panospheres overlaid with historical images. Through this case study, we will demonstrate how the production of digital heritage can impact all aspects of heritage management, from data collection to public engagement, and explore best-practices for creation and curation of digital heritage.
09:10 AM: A 3D Geometric Morphometric approach for the analysis of Paleoindian projectile points in northwestern Ontario: Tracing migration of the first peoples
  • Dave Norris - Western University
Paleoindian projectile point variability in northwestern Ontario consists reflects diverse shapes and forms, but comparatively small numbers of specimens from widely dispersed sites.  Over the past 70 years of Paleoindian documentation within the region, no typology has been established due to this ambiguity.  Traditional means of recording shape variance including caliper measurements of length, width and thickness, but has done little to sort out the variation of form.  Additionally, the variation of form has led to educated speculation and uncertainty regarding the migration of the first peoples into the northwestern Ontario area.  This presentation will introduce a new 3D geometric morphometric approach to the examination of shape variance of these Paleoindian projectile points.  Focus of the analysis is based on shape variance of the basal portion of projectile points, given that these change over space and time and are considered to yield the most culturally laden information.   The approach applies 3D scanning technology, 3D geometric morphometric software and statistical analysis to compare overall shape of Paleoindian projectile points in northwestern Ontario to adjacent surrounding areas such as Manitoba and Minnesota.  Results from the analysis suggest complex patterned variability in overall shape and form in Paleoindian projectile points, that suggest diverse stylistic similarities to those from surrounding areas which, in turn imply complex patterns of diffusion or migration.
09:30 AM: Change Detection and Changing Technologies in Archaeological Heritage Management
  • Kelsey Pennanen - University of Calgary
  • Peter C. Dawson - University of Calgary
Digital Technology is viewed as transformative in archaeology as it has the potential to “disrupt” established field practices.  For example, the rapid documentation of archaeological sites using terrestrial laser scanning can disrupt current frameworks for managing erosion and documenting other slow-moving agents of change.  Regardless, many researchers continue to use digital technology in rather conventional ways. This includes using laser scanning and photogrammetry to duplicate many traditional field recording methods such as mapping excavation units and documenting stratigraphic profiles. While 3D visualization of archaeological sites can be beneficial, we argue that the analytical possibilities of point clouds and other forms of digital data need to be further explored.  For example, techniques such as change detection analysis, used in geomatics engineering, offer a means of identifying and documenting how slow-moving changes impact archaeological sites over time. In this paper, we offer some examples of how digital technology can disrupt archaeological field methods using a case study from a Buffalo Jump site in southern Alberta.
09:50 AM: Multispectral Photogrammetry of Cultural Landscapes on the Northern Plains from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Platforms
  • Leslie (Butch) Amundson - Stantec Consulting Ltd.
  • Kevin Grover - Stantec Consulting Ltd.
  • Grant Wiseman - Stantec Consulting Ltd.
  • Margaret Kennedy - University of Saskatchewan
  • Brian Reeves - University of Calgary
As early adopters of technology, especially for creating accurate maps, archaeologists have been using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to discover and record archaeological features, landscapes and excavations since they became commercially available. This project tested the use of visual (RGB), near-infrared (NIR) and thermal sensors mounted on UAV platforms (fixed wing and multi-rotor) to discover and record archaeological features in their landscape context with georeferenced, high resolution imagery of three landscapes on the Northern Plains that contain a variety of cultural features, including stones circles, boulder alignments, stone cairns and medicine wheels. We created digital layers to compare with the results of conventional archaeological survey, in cooperation with an ongoing archaeological survey near the forks of the South Saskatchewan and Red Deer Rivers in southwestern Saskatchewan. We applied both Object Based Image Analysis (OBIA) and desktop visual examination of the imagery captured in this project to determine whether interpretation results were similar to conventional survey and whether conventional survey and UAV-based multispectral imagery recognized different features. The project evolved to include applying the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) to identify features, both surface and buried, using OBIA to recognize ancient anthropogenic influences on vegetative health. Our efforts have expanded to application of high resolution satellite imagery in a variety of contexts.
10:30 AM: No Longer Standing: Digital Accessibility at the Perrenoud Homestead
  • Madisen  Hvidberg - University of Calgary
  • Peter Dawson - University of Calgary
The disassembly of structurally unsound heritage buildings for the purposes of safety and development is a well-established practice. Oftentimes this removal comes with the intent of moving, reassembling, or rebuilding the structure in the future. Located just outside of Cochrane, AB the Perrenoud Homestead is one such site, taken apart and placed in storage in the summer of 2017. It is composed of two residences and is a heritage site valued for its significance to the establishment of early ranching operations in Southern Alberta. During its disassembly, the Perrenoud Homestead was digitally documented using terrestrial LiDAR scanning and drone-based photogrammetry. The utilization of these methods is important in innovating not only access to this heritage resource while the physical structure of the homestead is absent from the site, but in providing a roadmap for future steps in this project. In this paper, I discuss the Perrenoud Homestead project, focusing on the use of digital methods to "disrupt" traditional heritage practices surrounding public accessibility to sites that have been removed.
10:50 AM: Capture, Archive, Monitor, Mobilize: The Alberta Digital Heritage Archive as Disruptive Innovation.
  • Peter Dawson - University of Calgary
  • Christina Robinson - University of Calgary
  • Kelsey Pennanen - University of Calgary
  • Madisen Hvidberg - University of Calgary
The concept of disruptive innovation was first defined and analyzed by American scholar Clayton M. Christensen, and it refers to technologies that disrupt existing networks supporting the status quo for how things are done. Documenting buildings using hand measurements, monitoring damage via visual inspection, and commemorating significance through signage are just a few examples of how government agencies have traditionally managed heritage resources in Canada. In many areas of the world, reality capture technologies such as terrestrial laser scanning are revolutionizing how we document and preserve heritage sites for future generations, as well as communicate their significance to the public. As such, they are the very definition of “disruptive technology”. But what exactly is being disrupted? In this paper, we examine this question through an open access digital heritage archive recently created at the University of Calgary. We explore how the archive could potentially transform existing networks that support how provincial heritage resources are captured, archived, monitored, as well as experienced by the public.  
11:10 AM: The use of LiDAR terrain data in Alberta archaeology was more disruptive than anticipated
  • Robin Woywitka - Archaeological Survey of Alberta
  • Colleen  Haukaas - Archaeological Survey of Alberta
  • Todd Kristensen - Archaeological Survey of Alberta
The Government of Alberta began investing in airborne Light and Detection Ranging (LiDAR) digital eleveation data in 2009. Within two years, these data became the new standard in digital terrain data within the government. The use of LiDAR increased the fidelity and reliability of models in geology, hydrology, agriculture, forestry, transportation, and archaeology, and was recognized as game-changing in these terrain-based disciplines. As expected at the outset of the use of a new technology, the initial presentation to the archaeological community of LiDAR-based assessments was met with a mix of enthusiasm, healthy skepticism, and, in some cases, reluctance to integrate the new technology into existing archaeological practice. Nine years later, LiDAR has become a welcome fixture of many archaeological programs, particularly in the northern part of the Province where thick vegetation cover complicates the selection of survey target areas.  There also remains a lingering hesitation among some researchers for the technology, despite increasing evidence of the efficacy of LiDAR-based analysis in identifying sites. In this talk we summarize the archaeological uses of LiDAR in Alberta archaeology, and discuss the effects that its adoption has had on survey results in the northern part of the Province. We also examine the theoretical and contextual factors that may explain why the introduction of this new data source was disruptive in the Alberta archaeological community.
11:30 AM: New views to a Kill: Drone photography and photogrammetry to document the landscape archaeology of Bison Kills
  • Scott Hamilton - Lakehead University
Communal bison killing has a long history on the Great Plains, but it is often difficult to document how landscape features contributed to hunt success. This reflects archaeological preoccupation with artifact-rich kill and processing zones, compounded with difficulties envisioning past landscapes at sufficient resolution. This has improved with better quality satellite imagery, but low elevation drone-assisted photogrammetry offers significant opportunity. Several sw Manitoba communal kill sites are reviewed to illustrate this mapping capacity. Future innovation will occur with ready availability of Lidar, and especially with Virtual and Augmented Reality. While such technology is already in place, its cost and complexity has limited widespread application. Such technologies will become truly ‘transformative’ or ‘disruptive’ as capacity, cost and ‘user-friendliness’ become balanced as consumer products.
11:50 AM: Exploring Húy̓at: A Cultural Keystone Place of the Heiltsuk, British Columbia
  • Dana  Lepofsky
  • Jennifer Carpenter
  • Mark  Wunsch
  • Nancy Turner
There are some cultural landscapes that are inseparably intertwined with the history, identity, and wellbeing of particular groups today. These deep connections grow out of generations of people interacting with these landscapes in a myriad of ways. Húy̓at, on the central coast of British Columbia, is one such place for the Heiltsuk First Nation. At Húy̓at, we have documented the layers of Heiltsuk experiences as recorded in the archaeological record, oral traditions, songs, language, place names, terrestrial and marine ecology, and memories. To present these layers in a way that reflects their multi-dimensional connections, and to be accessible to the Heiltsuk and other communities today, we have assembled the eco-cultural data in a web site and touch screen to be placed in the community. In our presentation, we will explore Húy̓at together by presenting a quick overview of this website.
12:10 PM: Disruptive Digital Technologies and the Future of Canadian Archaeological Employment
  • Terrance H.  Gibson - Western Heritage
Looking back more than 40 years, it is evident that the vast majority of Canadian archaeological practitioners have not been particularly quick to adopt emergent digital technologies as part of their regular operations. There are many reasons for this, such as shortcomings in post-secondary archaeological curriculums, outdated regulatory requirements and simple disinterest from the professional community who prefer to focus on traditional artifacts as the focus of their interpretations. Yet, it is my belief that archaeologists with a proclivity to rely solely on “stones and bones” as their primary information source, largely eschewing other kinds of data, will likely find themselves filtered out of the discipline as digital technologies become ever more important in data collection and archaeological interpretation. This is because only those with skills commensurate with understanding, developing and using complex digital archaeological tools that yield more data from cultural deposits will be considered employable. Other “traditionally focussed” archaeologists and support technicians will find themselves redundant as “normal” archaeological work is taken over by ever more complex digital machine processes used in the field and in the lab. In this presentation, examples of past, current and impending archaeological job redundancies caused by digital technologies will be discussed, as well as those archaeological employment positions that will likely thrive in the midst of accelerating digital advances.