Monday Oct 12, 2009

Gurob Harem Palace Project

As I may have mentioned, I spent most of April 2009 working at Gurob in the Fayum region in Egypt.
Gurob, or Medinet el-Ghurab was an important settlement which existed from Predynastic to Ptolemaic times, although its most important phase of occupation was during the New Kingdom when a Palace, settlement, and cemeteries were erected under Thutmosis III.
The site has suffered severely in the recent past, especially due to the fact that it was used for military purposes.
Dr Ian Shaw from Liverpool University is now working at the site, undertaking survey, fieldwalking and pottery collecting work in order to establish an accurate plan and evaluate specific areas of the site.

The project now has a website which is coming along nicely. Read about past and present work and take a look at the gallery. Reports to the Supreme Council of Antiquities can be found in the "Past Seasons" section.
This year's report should be out soon, keep your eyes open!

Furthermore, I will be posting from my other blog in future, but posts should appear here. Some older posts might be interesting to those who want to know what I was up to in Egypt earlier this year ;-)

Wednesday Oct 22, 2008

Good old Google...

...will be talking over the planet soon...! Take a look and laugh.

Tuesday Oct 07, 2008

Contour lines - an update

The whole thing is actually a lot less complicated than previously posted.
In fact, gvSIG does the job really nicely. Follow the series of screenshots below and produce some lovely contour lines.

Add your points to a view. Open the Sextante tool and select "inverse distance". 

Select the correct field (spot the mistake - It's "elevation", not "EASTING";), view extent and raster output cell size. 

A raster image is produced on the elevation information attached to your points:

Now for the production of contour lines: Sextante - vectorisation - contour lines:

Make sure the equidistance selected is no smaller than the raster cell size defined above, otherwise you will end up with false results.

The output with the raster image displayed in the background:

Nice, clean contour lines:

...which can then be exported as shapefiles and added to any project. The elevation information is attached to each of them.

Monday Oct 06, 2008

QGIS imports ArcInfo!

I downloaded some .e00 files from Maproom for my lovely PhD project today. The only possible way of converting these files into shapefiles seemed to be via the ArcCatalog conversion tool (which, very inconveniently, had to be set up and found first...).

First things first: I found this "handy" website which gives clever links to the ESRI website on how to do the above... They did not work, try it out!

The conversion tool worked fine for half the data, the rest just couldn't be converted, no matter how hard I tried, and when I finally managed through the AVCE00 ArcView converter ArcGIS crashed and died several times (surprised?)...

Opening QGIS was a good idea, as this reads the .e00 data without any difficulty. Simply click "Add a vector layer", selecting to show files of all types and adding the .e00 files. Slighlty unexpected, because it doesn't appear in the list of options. But that's about it, otherwise great, problem solved :-)

Friday Aug 29, 2008

Becoming an Egyptologist

I am leaving OA South today and moving up North to join the Lancaster office. I will be working there henceforth, fulfilling (almost) the same job.

The reason for my moving is that I got accepted for my PhD at Liverpool University, starting at the end of September, on a part-time basis. I will be researching Egyptian Capital Cities of the New Kingdom with a special focus on their industries. This has been my special interest ever since finishing my MA in Berlin which I wrote about the site of Qantir / Per-Ramesse in the Northeastern Egyptian Delta which I was lucky enough to work on twice. I shall not go into further detail here, in case anybody is interested, you can read more here.
Any ideas/thoughts/comments concerning this are highly welcome!

I wish to express my thanks to all those people out there who made this all possible, the support and encouragement! I had a wonderful time at OA South and I will miss everybody! I won't be out of the world, even my email will remain the same.

Anna :-)

Saturday Aug 02, 2008

Oxford Archaeology at the Winckelmann Cup 2008 in Podoli

The purpose of this legendary journey was to participate in the Winckelmann Cup 2008 as part of the (rather international) team
The Winckelmann Cup is the Archaeology Football Worldcup and takes place every year in a different location.

The OA crew left Oxford at ca 9:45am on Thursday, July 3rd after piling into our beautiful grey hired minibus and collecting everybody one by one from a variety of locations within the city.
Once complete we started making our way towards Dover with Markus at the wheel, getting us to the ferry well in time.

The OA delegation!
Top row from left: Markus Dylewski (Graphics), Mike Donnelly (Fieldwork), Joseph Reeves (IT), Gary Jones (Geomatics); Bottom row from left: Anna Hodgkinson (Geomatics), Sergio Carvalho (Fieldwork), Rafael Martinez-Jausoro (Buildings).

Naturally, people wanted to ensure no weakness of stomach would take place on the boat and therefore the port's very own Burger King was destination number one.

After a "good" meal and some excitement from Joseph's side about all the VW vans in line for the boat which were all very nice and colourful, we were ready for some serious sea action.

As soon as we got aboard and the compulsory Dover-White-Cliffs shots had been taken, the first bottles of "Juice" were to be consumed by those lucky enough not to drive on that day. Juice, to be quite precise refers to beer and was one of the vital ingredients for a day's worth of fun, especially appreciated by the Scottish side of the team. The boardshop proved to be less exciting than expected, but time and fears from setting one's foot onto French soil had to be used up, before the journey off the ferry could be risked.
Off the boat, our journey took us through four different countries - that's five in one day ;-) - quite impressive, really: France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, where we finally stopped and spent the night. Markus' parents were so kind as to let a horde of archaeologists step through their gates and drink their beer... We got pizza from a shop nearby and had some fun chatting to Markus' friends and brother.

The next morning was a bit headachy and getting out of bed was not so happy... but we made it and yet again boarded the minibus which was to carry us to the Czech Republic. This leg of the journey was longer than expected due to Markus' clever GPS which had the tendency to request U-turns rather than re-calculating the route. After a long stop in Chemnitz (East-German city still awaiting some serious development) and a tour through the centre of Prague which ensured the compulsory sight-seeing to be covered ;-)

We arrived in Podoli just after 8pm, after following random instructions and finally finding a way to the sportsgrounds via a field of sunflowers.

(this is not Podoli, by the way, but similar.)

Tent City was almost completely erected by the time of our arrival, awaiting just the addition of OA's Cardiff Dragons' tents.

The team was complete with the actual Cardiff delegation, and so the first night was simply spent celebrating everyone's arrival. We missed the opening ceremony, and therefore needed to catch up on getting to know everybody over Czeck Juice, the price of which is very different from that available in the UK.
For me it was surprising and fun to meet up with some of the guys I went to university with in Berlin (HU) "back in the day" and who had come to play as well. Gladly, as we found out, we were not in the same group as them! There was a hog roast, the remains of which were plundered by the team from Würzburg and the heads placed onto stakes just outside their tents.

Saturday morning, getting up was painful and with the sun beating down onto the tents, turning each of them into a roasting tin, heads were sore, and not just from that. Breakfast consisted out of *proper* bread, cheese and meat and coffee, good for some, not so great for others, but everyone seemed grateful for some food. After breakfast the team gathered:

Nick, Ian, Martin, Nao and David from Cardiff joined us, and we ended up having a good selection of substitute players. The unfortunate thing was that Nao has been playing football practically all her life and I haven't. It is compulsory for every team to have at least one girl on the pitch at all times and due to the fact that I had to substitute for Nao, the chances for scoring went down by quite a percentage...

Our first match on Saturday was against a German team in green t-shirts and was won by us - well, I was in the field for a grand total of 3 minutes, at the end of the second half. It must be mentioned at this point, though that each half consisted of ten minutes.

We won this match with a lot of glamour, same as the second one, in which I was allowed onto the pitch a bit longer.

some more action shots:

The last match in the qualification series was lost against the only Polish team. Did I mention that most of the other teams were German, as the Winckelmann Cup originates from there? There was one team from the US and another from Italy and a few other nations were represented as well.
The fact that we lost against Poland did not matter too much, as we had won the first two which qualified us for the eigth-finals which were to be played that very evening.

Every match was a challenge for Joe, as he *insisted* on a different hairdo per match. A shame that there was no best-hair award to be won.

Some floral bits and pieces were added to the ensemble afterwards.

Throughout the day some minor injuries were acquired by several of our players and took them off the pitch temporarily or indefinitely. Tears were not involved, but pain and grief - as in proper football... People either recovered with the intake of juice, painkillers or cigarettes, or promised to sort themselves out once back under the caring grasp of the NHS.

We played our eigth-final match against the notorious BFC Spartacus Berlin. This bunch of tough boys did attempt to tire us out, but the hardiness of the Dragons did not fail and it came to a penalty-shootout which we, quite unfortunately, lost. It was not that nobody accepted Spartacus' victory, but rather the fact that they, over the years, had become quite infamous for their style and there have been rumours that their team might not be represented by the number of archaeologists required for a "legal" team... The fact that they made it to the final did not make it any better...

The longest match of that day was our friendly against the above-mentioned "Würzburgers" who bet us something like 30:2. Good job nobody was watching!

That night everybody gathered for some late-night football and drinking action which lasted rather long and produced new friendships and some headaches on Sunday morning.

Sunday, the final day proved to be just as exciting as the others, as it was the day for a) friendly matches for those teams who did not qualify or lost in the eigth-finals and b) the quarter-, semi- and *finals. We won one of these matches and lost against a team consisting almost in its entirety from girls.

Here's Nao in her element. She and Martin were later off-hired to Spartacus Berlin to play for them in the final due to their goal-scoring abilities.

Even I was allowed to wear a colour other than yellow, as the Würzburg team lacked a girl and thus I supported their numbers in a couple of matches. I even happened to kick the ball in the right direction once or twice...

The Würzburg team consisted about half-half from Würzburg Uni-students and archaeologists from a small archaeological unit associated with the university.

A special team who had arrived with the aim of gaining the so-called "Uschi-Cup", the award for the team who were most fun, were the Latene Lovers, Leipzig. These guys came dressed in pink t-shirts, equipped with drums and all sorts of other noisy equipment, and cheered for their favoured teams during the matches. Their support was greatly appreciated and I do hope they won this award!

We managed to pack most our things before the final, a spectacle which was observed and enjoyed greatly by everyone. The teams involved were the above-mentioned Spartacus Berlin and Maradona Napoli, with Nao and Martin representing the Cardiff Dragons under cover. This arrangement made it quite difficult to cheer, as we really favoured the Italian team, but wanted to support our teammates too... And nobody would have wanted to clash with Berlin's number 8 - I think he managed to gain himself 2 (is that possible - there shows how much I really know about football) yellow cards and fouled a player from the opposite team rather nastily.

Napoli won, so there was a great deal of cheering from the fans who had been sitting and standing around the pitch and then crowded on the same to congratulate the happy winners.

Unfortunately, the Cardiff Dragons could not afford to stay for the award ceremony which took place after the final, as our journey back was going to be a long one.
We made it to place 15 out of 30ish, a result which made us happy. Maybe next time, with a little more training, the Cardiff Dragons could make it to the final?!
The trip proved to take even longer, people requiring stretching breaks to cure their stressed limbs rather often and it was not until 11pm that we made it to a service station near (Kassel) where my brother collected me to take me home for a few days.

My part of the journey ends here, the rest of the OA part of the team, now including Nick and Ian, made their way back to Oberhausen, where they enjoyed a grand total of 3 hours of sleep, left Markus behind, and got back to Oxford the following day.

This trip was an exciting, very enjoyable and sporty adventure, unforgettable and, in short, fantastic! I think I am not the only one to say -

Bring on Winckelmann Cup 2009!!!!!
(in Bamberg, Germany)

Photos by: Anna Hodgkinson, Joseph Reeves, Sergio Carvalho

Wednesday Jun 25, 2008

Survey data inaccessibilities

Yesterday I got *slightly* annoyed. I went out to set out a site on Monday and due to the GPS not having great reception I unpacked our shiny (not new) Leica TCR705 Total Station. All went well, but when it came to downloading I got quite upset about the fact that this piece of equipment can by default only be downloaded using a programme called LisCad - the most user-unfriendly software in the world. I struggled for quite some time - as one does and finally managed to get my data out of the machine - thanks to my helpful colleagues who are a bit more familiar with it!

Issues are the following: The data from the machine is converted into a textfile, which is LisCad-specific and has to be exported into AutoCAD format to make it workable. Problem number two is that the points which are exported have none of the data attached to them which were previously attached to them during survey - HOW ANNOYING!

Then I downloaded the GPS (Leica 1200 system) data from the same day. All data from our Leica 1200's is downloaded using Leica GeoOffice (LGO). This software is a lot more userfriendly and convenient and actually exports points with data attached and produces data output in various working formats. It still creates the link between the instrument and the computer.

Furthermore it is complicated and inconvenient to transfer between software and instruments, e.g. the TCR705's line data cannot be imported into LGO which makes it all very instrument-specific and frustrating.

To be fair - Leica supplies us with all the software and the most up-to date stuff comes with each machine and one always receives new updates as well. Support is also granted. As one would expect when investing into very expensive equipment.

Then I started to think - what would happen if one had a piece of survey equipment and not the compatible software? or a computer which is too old? Or an operating system which is not compatible with the Leica software (or whatever make, I am not being negatively focussed on Leica)? Or no survey software at all? Or the software dies and support is presently unavailable?

What I am trying to say is the following:

a) I am not happy with the monopoly the survey equipment companies take over the software and downloading procedures.

b) The fact that raw data, in a universally accessible format, is very difficult to extract from the machines is a great nuisance.

This is all due to the fact that Leica and the likes have a monopoly over the data their machines produce.
I am aware of the fact that the data can be extracted without the use of prescribed survey-software, but this is currently quite complicated and under development.

Any suggestions for avoiding the use LGO and it's likes are very welcome!

Sunday Jun 08, 2008

How to create contour lines in open source GIS

I was given the task to create contour lines for three sites close to one another. The levels had been previously surveyed and existed as shapefiles. Here is what I did:

Programmes used (in this order):

GvSIG: Upload the level shapefiles. Then start the Sextante extension toolbox and choose: “Rasterization and Interpolation” - “Kriging”. Under “Parameters” choose the point input layer – the individual level shapefiles. The “Field” should be the one containing your height info. Select a filepath for the output “Result[raster]” and save it somewhere obvious – it will be used in the next step. In the “Raster output” tab choose “use extent from layer” and define your cell size (not too small). “Accept” - a raster image is added to your dataset which contains the height information Create as many raster images as required (in my case 3).

The next step takes place in MapWindow, because I discovered that although GvSIG produces them it has 2 major problems: a) The height of the individual contours does not seem to recognize them and rounds everything to the nearest meter – not very useful. b) GvSIG creates an outline around the extent of the contour shapefile, which has to be painfully cropped away.

Therefore we change to

MapWindow: Got to: “GIS tools” - “Raster” - “Generate a contour shapefile”. Choose: “use an external file...” and browse to wherever you saved the raster image produced by GvSIG, add it. You can choose an output shapefile or save the contours later. Then define your contour interval or “use fixed levels” - you will probably have to go through this process until you are happy with the result. “Generate” and the contour shapefile will be created and added. Create as many shapefiles as required (in my case 3).

Another problem I encountered was when I tried using MapWindow to crop the contour shapefiles to the boundaries of the three areas. One area consisted of several polygons and the “Clip shapefile with polygon” in “GIS tools” - “Vector” did not work for this one. I think it does work if your area consists of one polygon only, though.

Thus I put the boundaries and the contours into

GvSIG again and use the “View” - “Geoprocess toolbox” - “Geoprocesses” - “Analisis” - “Overlay” - “Clip” Select your Input- and Clip- covers and save the new shapefile – it will be cropped to match the boundary of the area.

OpenJump: Is handy to select individual polylines from your contours, copy these and export them to new shapes in order to be overlain to the rest and labelled. Right-click onto your layer - “Select current layer items”. Once that has been done, go “Edit” - “Replicate selected items” - they are then added to your dataset and can be saved as a new shapefile.