Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Facce: a digital poster for the exhibition

The opening of the exhibition "Facce. I molti volti della storia umana" will soon take place in Padua (14th February 2015), so I started to work also on dissemination tools, trying to focus on new media potentialities.
While the real communication experts will take care of the traditional promotion (posters, handbills, etc...), I would like to use the opportunity to test different methods.
Basically I am just developing a digital poster, which should be an reminder of the exhibition (with some essential informations) and, at the same time, an interactive showcase for the photos that the people sent us (and will send us) for our crowdsourcing campaign regarding the pareidolia phenomenon.
I think that the best way to realize this idea is to compile an app for Android, so that it will be accessible to many different smartphones. I designed the app to contain a WebViewer, linked to an address in our server, in which I uploaded an interactive gallery of images.
My first step has been a fast search in internet to find all the tools I was needing to develop my app, of course checking the licenses and choosing the open source software (an the simplest ones, being a newcomer in such field).
As first I focused on the gallery and I chose an MIT licensed  jQuery tool (jssor), with which I build this slideshow:

Than I looked for a software to develop my app and (thanks to +Michele Mazzurana) I came across another MIT licensed software, MIT App Inventor. This software has two main advances: it is based a GUI (very simple) and it does not require an emulator to test the work (if you have an Android device, you can directly connect it with your project).
Here is a screenshot of the direct link between the software and the mobile:

Direct link between MIT App Inventor and the mobile

If you want to test the app, you can download it here. Please notice that to visualize the gallery you will need an internet connection, so (depending on your contract) your provider could put additional costs (no problem if you have a flat rate or if you use free wifi access).
I hope this post was useful, have a nice day!

If you have pictures regarding the pareidolia effect, you can upload them on the FaceBook page of the exhibiotn "Facce" (do not forget to write the author, the title and the license, for the credits). Day by day the pictures will be uploaded in the gallery of the app.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

3D printing for Cultural Heritage

As many of you know,
since last year we are working on the preparation of the open source exhibition "FACCE. I molti volti della storia umana" (here some news in ATOR: 1, 2 and here the official page and the FB page). Of course all the software we are using are Free and Open (FLOSS), but for some particular exhibits, we are working also with open hardware.
Our interest in this specific topic dates back to 2006, when we started investigating the potentialities of open hardware in archeology, especially in the field of aerial photography e rapid prototyping. We get the first results in 2008, with our UAVP prototype (here some news from ATOR: 1, 2) an all the other UAV we built (KK, etc...).
For the exhibition the main open hardware we used are 3D printing machines. We experienced different solutions: +Leonardo Zampi printed the 3D model of the Taung Child thanks to the Kentstrapper machines, an ideal choice if you want an hardware which is ready to work out of the box (here the related articles: 1, 2)...

The Taung Child printed in the Volta printer (Kentstrapper)

... and we build our own device from the scratch, a Fa)(a 3D, thanks to +Giacomo Falaschi  and +silvio tassinari , of Roma Makers.

Building the Fa)(a 3D at Roma Makers lab.

One of the main issue in 3D printing for Cultural Heritage is to replicate an object in the right scale (otherwise you will just print a souvenir) and this is why it is very important to know how to perform a 3D scan, but also how to post-process your data ( (in ATOR you will find a lot of informations about this), in order to send the right file to the machine.
Here are some example of the models we are printing for the exhibition (scale 1:1): some 3D skulls of hominids (different individuals of Homo georgicus) we were able to scan, tanks to the kindness of Prof. David Lordkipanidze, during our mission to Tiblisi and Dmanisi. We will use them to prepare some Augmented Reality interactive exhibits related to paleoart.

3D printed skull (side view)

3D printed skull (front view)

And here is a short video of our Fa)(a 3D in action:

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

(Binary) packaging with Debreate

Working on the binary packages of ArcheOS 5 (Theodoric), I found a software that make easy (through a GUI) the entire process, especially the final (package building). With this software, Debreate, if you are able to compile form source code, than you will be able to build a deb binary package with just a few more steps. The whole workflow is guided an pretty easy, but to make things more simple a recorded the videtutorial you can see here below:

The important thing in packaging for ArcheOS is to respect the schema we decided in ArcheOS 4, that for software application is:

/bin (for executables file)
/usr/share/archeos/softwarename-version (for the software files)
/usr/share/icons/archeos/48x48/softwareicon.png (for the icon)

In the example (OpenJUMP) I recorded in the vidotutorial, the schema is the following:


I hope this tutorila will be useful and that someone will join us in packaging for ArcheOS Theodoric.

Have a nice day!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

ArcheOS Theodoric OpenJUMP binary package: call for tester

I finally found a little bit of time to work on ArcheOS 5 (codename Theodoric). As some of you know, one of our main goal for this version was to add all the software as source packages (instead of binary packages), in order to avoid problems in maintaining different hardware versions (source packages can be compiled by the Operating System independently on 32 bit or 64 bit machine without the necessity to prepare different binary packages). Thanks to the effort of +Fabrizio Furnari  (system engineer) and +Romain Janvier  (archaeologist and IT expert) we reached a good version of ArcheOS, with a lot of software already packaged in source version. If someone is interested in testing the state of the art of ArcheOS 5, he/she can visit the GitHub page and follow the instructions to build an updated ArcheOS 5 iso image. Despite this, a lot of work is still to be done to implement all the necessary software and this is the reason why I proposed, on the developer mailing list, to go on with binary packaging to speed up a final iso release ArcheOS Theodoric.
Today I started with a first package: OpenJUMP. I chose this software because during our last excavation we noticed that it is still an useful application, especially for 2D photogrammetric documentation of wall prospects and archaeological sections. I think that ArchaoSection (developed by the +Denis Francisci , archaeologist and GIS expert) could be a good replacement of OpenJUMP for this operations, but to tell the truth I did not have yet the time to test it. I will record ASAP a videotutorial regarding this topic. By now I share here the new package, in the hope that someone will help me to test it for Debian Wheeze (ArcheOS), so that later it will be uploaded into Theodoric's repository. Due to the fact that I am a little bit rusty in packaging, the software has to be considered as experimental.

OpenJUMP 1.8.0

For the next future I plan to work on packaging the software VTP (Virtual Terrain Prject) with @Bob Max's script to connect it with QGIS (in order to grant a good 3D visualization system in QGIS) and to RGBDemo (due to the feedbacks @Leonardo Zampi wrote about it).

Sunday, 4 January 2015

OpenJUMP, auto assign attribute

This post will present a new videotutorial for ArcheOS 5 (codename Theodoric), regarding the software OpenJUMP.
Like for this other article, also in this case I chose to use a real project, to show the potentialities of ArcheOS in different archaeological missions. The main objective of the work was the inspection of an high mountain area (more than 3000 meters above the sea level), in order to verify the possible presence of historical remains connected with the World War I. One of my specific needs to prepare the mission was the setting of a GIS system, updating a geological vector map of the whole province in which I was operating. Luckily this province (Trentino) is at the forefront (in Italy) for the distribution and use of geographical open data, so I had no problems in finding the base map I mentioned before; the main work has been the updating of the database, connected with the vector layer, in which I had to insert some additional informations that were stored in an external spreadsheet.

In short, what I did in OpenJUMP is:

1. Query the Area Of Interest (AOI) of my project in the vector base map, in order to visualize a numerical code that was connected with the additional data in the spreadsheet

2. Edit the database schema of the vector map to add two new fields for the additional informations

3. Check the spreadsheet to read the values connected to the numerical code of the vector map

4. Query the vector map to select all the regions with the numerical code of my AOI (which would share with it all the same additional informations)

5. Use the Auto Assign Attributes Tool to fill (for all the selected regions) the new empty database fields with the right values

6. Repeat the operations till all the vector map has been updated with the additional informations

This videotutorial shows the main operations. I hope it will be usefull for you. As usual I uploaded it also in the DADP wiki.

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Some weeks ago Luca Bezzi wrote an interesting post about conversion of a grey-scale image into a 3D printable .stl file, using Free Software (i.e. G.I.M.P. to convert the image and Blender, with the "Image as plane" addon). Here is a video-tutorial:

This method can be used for any image, but it is particulary useful to create physical model of terrains; in fact Luca Bezzi took inspiration from topography, as he explained in comments.
Anyway, today there is a faster and more precise method to do the same thing, as reported in; a web-app, called Terrain2STL, that can can convert a Google Map into a 3D printable file. The app has been created by ThatcherC, is Open Source and available on GitHub.
Terrain2STL is very easy to use. You just have to type on your browser; you will see a physical Google Map, and, on the right, some tools. Once you have defined the area you want to print, you can click on "Center to view" to set the center of the area (a red rectangle) on the central point of the screen. Then you can adjust the dimension of the area using the line called "Arc Second/Division". Once you have set the area, you just have to click on "Create .stl file".

A limit of this app is that you can not draw an area crossed by a grid line (in this case you will see an error message: "Something went wrong: you may be spanning a grid line"). Anyway, this problem can be easily solved dividing your area in 2 parts and saving them separately.
Opening the generated .stl file with NetFabb Basic it may happen that the danger symbol appear, because the 1st time the software may not be able to define the volume of the object; however, you can just click on the "automatic repair" button (the red cross) to easily solve the problem, and have a clear file.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Archaeobotany: identification of vegetal macro remains from "Battaglia excavations" in Ledro

In this post I'm going to summarize the work of identification of vegetal non-woody macro remains from the so-called “Battaglia excavations” (1937) in Ledro lake pile dwelling (Tn, Italy).
The materials are stored in the Museum of Anthropology of Padua and appear to be fairly preserved. They are in most cases charred, rarely waterlogged. For this reason the preservation status (and therefore also the morphometric variation and the color) is not uniform.
The work of identification is preliminary to future aDNA studies, in collaboration with Edmund Mach Foundation.

Some of the vegetal remains from Ledro at the Museum of Anthropology of Padua
In the autumn of 1929, when the level of Lake Ledro was appreciably lower than usual, after thousands of years a lake-settlement re-emerged into the light of day. Along the southern shores of the lake a forest of wooden piles (10.000) broke the surface, bearing all the marks of their long immersion. At first they were thought to belong to some long-forgotten sluice built to control the level of the lake, but soon they revealed to be the remains of the largest prehistoric site to have been uncovered hitherto in Italy.
Then the water-level rose once more and all was submerged, until the drought of 1936-37 lowered significantly the level of the lake and enabled further excavation to be undertaken. These are the excavations known as “Battaglia”, from the surname of the archaeological director.
These first researches, made by the University and the archaeological service of Padua, saw the continuation in years ‘50 and ‘60. In the 80s, the Natural Science Museum of Trento realized campaigns of excavations with techniques previously not available, following the stratigraphic criteria and adopting scientific naturalistic methodologies, that allowed the experts to agree in thinking 2,200 BC to 1,350 BC the dates of these pile dwelling life.

For our project (December 2014), the identification of macro remains has been accomplished to the naked eyed and with the help of a microscope for the difficult ones.
For the comparison, illustrated volumes, paper and digital atlas (such as the Digital Atlas of Economic Plants in Archaeology of the Groningen Institute of Archaeology РGIA, University of Groningen and of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut РDAI, Berlin) have been used.

In the analysis, approximately 750 remains have been studied: 533 certain, 24 uncertain and 194 undetermined.

Summary table of the non-woody macro remains
It is possibile to observe a lot of edible plants, some of them cultivated, others wild. Among the cultivated species we can recognize wheat (Triticum monococcum/dicoccum L.) and barley (Hordeum sp. L.). Their seeds are really abundant (in some cases there are also fragments of ears) and show signs of combustion.

Charred cereals
Then there are fruits of hazels (Corylus avellana L.) and oak/holm oak (Quercus sp.), certainly used in alimentation.

Hazels fruits
There are also some fruits belonging to the family Rosaceae, but it wasn't possible to determine gender and species. The small size allow to rule out the possibility of wild apple (Malus domestica) and the spherical shape is not suited to the wild pear (Pyrus communis L.) reported by Battaglia in 1943. One of the most plausible hypothesis is that it is Sorbus sp. L.
The high presence of dogwood (
Cornus Mas L.), of which only a part seems to have been preserved at the Museum (Battaglia wrote of an entire layer composed of these seeds, while those remaining are only a hundred), does suggest its use in a massive way in the food field. One hypothesis, with archaeological and ethongraphic evidence, is that the dogwood was fermented to make a low alcohoolic drink. 
Dogwood seeds
In addition to fruits and seeds, in the collection we can find some galls of oak (Quercus sp. L.). The gall, or cecidia, is a malformation that may be due to several causes; these galls seem to be originated by an insect, the Cynips quercusfolii. These remains may have been gathered by the lake-dwellers to derive the tannic acid, in which are rich, a substance used in tanning.

Galls of Quercus sp. L.
Extremely fascinating are the plant remains identified as mixtures of cereals, a kind of "dumplings" made by kneading a cereal flour coarsely chopped. The morphology is rounded, the "nuggets" seem to be made by flattening the mixture on the thumb and then cooked on hot stones (another theory, proposed by botanist Della Fior in 1940, which for now is to be considered merely hypothetical not being proven by scientific analysis, is that the internal cavity is the space for a filling of some kind).

The aspect relating to the alimentary economy is really meaningful, in particular the relationship between agricultural practices and gathering of wild vegetables. We can assume a certain balance in the use of both resources. Indeed, the environment offered many food resources that were certainly exploited by the inhabitants. The groups of herbaceous plants that characterize the wet grasslands and ruderal sites still provide an alternative and complementary source of food.

This project has been also an opportunity to make the first tests on geometric morphology techniques in archaeobotany using open-source softwares as MorphoJ. In future we will try to develop and make available these methodologies.
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