Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Lavash bakery (archaeo-ethnography)

Hi all,
two day ago I had the possibility to visit a Lavash bakery near Yerevan. Lavash is the soft Armenian bread, popular in most of the Caucasian nations, whose origin date back to old time . It is made essentially with flour, water and salt. The typical flat shape is due to the traditional processing: the dough is rolled and fixed on a special stuff that is used to press the bread against the hot walls of a clay oven. Thanks to the thinness of the dough and to the hot temperature of the oven, the cooking time is reduce to few second (5-15).

More info about lavash here:

The picture below show the entire process:

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The underwater forest of Lake Tovel

As I wrote in a previous post, since 2005 Arc-Team is supporting Prof. Tiziano Camagna and Andrea Forti in their exploration of the underwater forest located in Tovel Lake (in Trentino - Italy). This project gave us some interesting data to test different techniques for underwater archeology, especially in the documentation field (like the use of SfM and IBM in extreme conditions).
I already reported some results of our experiments in this post and today I would like to publish the complete video we used to extract the 3d geometries of a flooded tree, thanks to the courtesy of Prof. Camagna, who kindly gave me the original record.

To help English reader, I translate here the superimposed text in the initial and final sequences:

"The underwater forest of Tovel Lake" (title)

"A landslide, as claimed by the studies conducted in 1992 by Oetheimer, caused the damming of the then envoy in 1597-1598, resulting in rising waters at the present level, submerging the forest located in the northeast of the lake" (intro)

"A photograph of the early '900 shows a tree of considerable size emerging from the water surface. This video shows the same tree today still firmly planted with its roots at the bottom of the lake." (intro)

"The under water forest of Tovel Lake;

people who participated in the making of the video:
Tiziano Camagna, Andrea Forti, Nicola Maganzini, Samuele Sozzi, Nadia Morani and Arc-Team (Cles) - Luca Bezzi and Alessandro Bezzi.

Video recorded with gopro hero 2.

Diving equipment.
Drysuits: Santi, Parisi; Computers: VR3 Delta P, Sunto; Lights: Scubatech, Fa&Me; Regulators: Apeks TXT 200, Interspiro Divator; Scuter: Suex; 

Gas blender: Tiziano Camagna, Andrea Forti

Special thanks to: the Municipality of Tuenno and the Adamello-Brenta Park

Video recorded in 2012" (credits) 

Currently Prof. Camagna started again with the exploration, while we will join him at the end of September (after +Alessandro Bezzi will return from the archaeological mission in Armenia). Soon we will post news and other reports regarding the project. 
Have a nice day!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Hi all,
this fast post is intended to be an overview of the new open source software Polygontool, an application our friend +Szabolcs Köllö (aka +keulemaster) developed for Arc-Team. This tool is helping us in defining an automatic data processing protocol, in order to directly convert raw data files (collected with RTK GPS or total station during survey campaigns) into GIS readable formats. Currently the tool is under an hard test phase, being used during an interreg project (leaded by +Rupert Gietl) about the Great War between the Austrian and Italian border, but it had already positive effects on our work-flow, reducing the time expensive operations of manual data processing. The short video below is a demo to explain how the software works and what it can do.

The source code (in Python) can be found on github and it is already usable (if you want to test it) and open to contributions (if you want to help us in the development). Currently the configuration files (in the "config" folder) are optimized for our interreg project, but you can, of course, modify the terminology to make them fit to any other archaeological database.
Soon I will post other reports about Polygontool. By now I hope this preview will be useful for some of you (and maybe for us, if someone will join the project).
Have a nice day!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

July 27, 2014: just another birthday for ATOR

... and here we are: the third birthday of ATOR! 
To respect the "tradition" (1st anniversary, 2nd anniversary), today I'll publish some data about our "open research" blog.
This year, unfortunately, there are no new entry between the active authors (or AuThORs, as someone already says), but the number of post has (obviously) increased from 160 to 215, leading to 767 comments from the community. Currently (22:31 p.m. in Italy) we had 253116 visualizations (41708 since last reset of the revolvermaps counter... this time it was my fault). Our members are, up to now, 85 and this means that we have 24 new regular readers.

In my opinion, our little experiment in "sharing tests, problems and results" of our research is working, due to some events that have occurred over the past three years:

  1. through ATOR, Arc-Team's research in archeology increased in terms of development and results
  2. ATOR's post were useful also for other disciplines and sciences (soon more news about this topic)
  3. oldest project (e.g. ArcheOS) took advantage form ATOR visibility
  4. new projects (e.g. Taung project) and derivatives subprojects (e.g. the exhibition "Facce") started also thanks to ATOR
  5. we have improved our English :)

As I wrote last year: "This short post is intended as a thanks for all the people composing the community of ATOR, readers and authors as well", but this time I want to mention the authors (in alphabetical order), without which our blog could not exist:
Bernhard Fischer 

Thank you all!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Lattice deform 3D: Modern man + chimp = H. rhodesiensis

This post is meant to showcase the use of Blender's Lattice Modifier on the facial reconstruction of hominid ancestors. As we do not have soft tissue tables for them, we had to use the skull of a modern human specimen and a chimpanzee and deform them alongside the soft tissue - although the latter stays in another layer.

Final image with details made on Sculpt Mode

The goal was to create a model resembling a computer tomography. It is meant to be hairless, without a defined color and promoting the study of form.

Deforming a chimp skull until it be converted in almost a man skull
Initially we were going to deform the head of a modern man, but instead we took advantage of the situation and tried a new approach; a few days earlier I had performed the deformation of a chimpanzee's skull using as a reference the skull of a man. We expected the result to be an individual very different from us humans, but what we saw was amazing: it looked like an average human being, or at least the caricature of a human being.

The man, the chimp and the result of the final deformation.
In view of this result I figured it would be a good idea to perform the deformation of the head of a modern man and a chimpanzee and in the end merge the two as a result of anatomical conformation.
At left the model made by MM Gerasimov

In the book The Face Finder written by the Russian master of forensic facial reconstruction MM Gerasimov, there was already talk that the structure of Homo rhodesiensis had characteristics of modern humans and apes.

In the end the two models joined in a single deformed mesh and I made minor adjustments. The result of our study was fairly consistent with that reached by MM Gerasimov.

Thanks to the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University (KUPRI) for the CT-Scan of the chimp. Thanks to the Osirix developers for the DICOM file of modern human. Thanks to Dr. Moacir Elias Santos for the 3D scanned skull of a H. rhodesiensis.  Thanks to Claudio Marques Sampaio for the help with English translation.

Homo Rhodesiensis after received the retopo of the mesh with Bsurface in Blender allowing the application of facial expressions.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

ArchaeoSection 0.1.1 (new release)

New release of ArchaeoSection (with some important bug corrections) is now available.

ArchaeoSection is a simple tool for the translation and rotation of points measured on a section line, in order to make easier the section's drawing.

More details and downloadable files are available here:

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Faces of Evolution - validating the methodology for facial reconstruction of hominids

Face of a Homo erectus pekinensis reconstructed from the deformation of the reconstructed CT scan of a modern man
In facial reconstruction, most secure information are those obtained based on the soft tissue thickness tables. They are elaborated from the measurement of the distance between the outer surface of the skin, going through muscles, fat and other soft tissue s to the bone, at specific points, spread over the head and may vary within an average  quantity of 21-33 landmarks, depending on the protocol used . These thicknesses can be obtained from people who have died recently or even in living individuals using ultrasounds or CT scans

And what use do these measures have in facial reconstruction? It's very simple, they work as a reference for the artist or scientist, which uses these points to make a "reverse engineering", because from the bones of the skull one can estimate how much soft tissue there was at these specific points, and approximate the volumetric shape of that individual based on a statistical method.

Stages of the adaptation of skull and skin of a modern man over the skull of a H. erectus pekinensis.
The problem arises when dealing with cases without soft tissue tables, such as our hominid ancestors. How to do this research for such beings, which are already extinct for thousands and/or hundreds of thousands of years?

To overcome this problem I thought of a conceptually simple solution but that charges a certain skill to be applied. In the case of hominids that look more like the modern man, such as neanderthalensis, pekinensis and rhodesiensis we can use the scans of modern humans, filter the skin and the skull and then deform them until the man's skull suits the hominid skull. Of course the skin is put in another layer so its view does not interfere in the work and at the same time. It also allows the focus to be restricted to the skull, that is the only sound piece that is left of that animal.

Paranthropus boisei, a hominid reconstructed from the deformation of the skull and skin of a Pan troglodytes (chimpanzee).
For other hominids such as Paranthopus boisei, Homo habilis, Australopithecus afarensis and the like, we apply the same procedure but using a reconstructed CT scan from a Pan troglodytes as the object for deformation.

So far so good, it was clear that this was an ingenious way out ... but would it be valid? Would that deformation be compatible with the volumetrics of the hominid in question?

To answer these questions I leaned on Archaeologist Luca Bezzi's rationale, put forward during a meeting in which we participated in Italy, in occasion of the preparations for FACCE, il molti volti della storia umana. Bezzi proposed a simple and interesting experience... he said, if the method was valid, theoretically it could convert a chimpanzee into a gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and vice and versa. I found that assumption fantastic and decided to perform it as soon as I returned to Brazil.

To get a gorilla, I resorted to a database of CT scans from KUPRI, Primate Research Institute Kyoto University, in Japan (PRICT. 296). Despite being with an "open mouth" the model I found seemed good, because the head was complete and it was an adult, as well as the chimpanzee used as a source object of deformation.

Although they look like the same creature at first glance, there are many structural differences between a chimpanzee and a gorilla. By adapting the skull of the first one, using the second as a reference, I was quite anxious to see the final result. Even a seemingly intelligent and well thought out solution, as I carried out a test with such rigor and the need to reach a pre-determined outcome, I confess that I feared falling into the arms of failure.

As I finished the settings and turned on the layer containing the already deformed chimpanzee's skin, I realized that the method had achieved a high degree of compatibility. I still must test the deformation of a gorilla... but I will leave it to another occasion, when free time allows me to do it. For now I will take some time and just enjoy the delight that this experience has given me.

OBS.: I have to thank Dr. Paulo Miamoto that made this translation from the original post in Portuguese. Dr. Miamoto is a Ph.D in Dentistry and coordinator of the EBRAFOL - Brazilian Team of Forensic Anthropology and Legal Dentistry.

A big hug!
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