First Person: Old Sherds, New Science
By Hershel Shanks
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The Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) has recently published a must-read for dig directors with the imposing and somewhat intimidating title Cyber-Archaeology in the Holy Land—The Future of the Past.a It is written by Tom Levy and his team from the University of California, San Diego,1 who have been excavating at the Edomite copper-mining site in Faynan, Jordan, since 1997.b According to the Bible, the site was visited by the Israelites on their Exodus journey from Egypt (Numbers 33:43).
We still dig the old-fashioned way, Levy tells us, “like our 19th-century predecessors with shovels, picks, trowels, dustpans, toothbrushes and so on. What is different is the use of digital tools to record data—and lots of it. In short, the way we collect and analyze the data that we recover is completely changing. Cyber-archaeology faces the challenges of quickly and accurately collecting masses of archaeological data, visualizing it and sharing it with colleagues and the public. This process can be visualized with a four-part model that focuses on acquisition, curation, analysis and dissemination of data.”

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