Road Trip 2018: Stop 4

2018.07.02.005
Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Stop 4: Paducah, Kentucky, June 30th – July 3rd

Stop 1 | Stop 2 | Stop 3

On Day 13 I left Nashville & made a quick drive into western Kentucky so that I could spend Day 14 exploring in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.  Unfortunately by the time I got there I’d been on the road for two weeks in weather roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun so although it’s a huge park with lots of trails & stuff I was running out of energy for outdoor activities & didn’t stay long.  I’d like to go back though, maybe in the fall when it’s cooler & the leaves are turning.  The name is pretty literal – it’s a big weird peninsula trapped between two forks of a dammed river, so there’s lots of water for boating, kayaking, swimming, etc.  There’s also a wildlife lab zoo thing, drive-through bison safari, living history farm, a really nice museum at the visitor’s center, & some ruins of iron smelting furnaces.

On Day 15 I went wandering around in Paducah, where I found a tugboat with the same name as my dad, an art gallery, & a tree on the sidewalk where the roots somehow grew into a square (the square root, lol).  Then a short hop over the Ohio river to Metropolis, Illinois to take a picture with the Superman statue in the middle of town & walk across the street to the Super Museum, which is basically a warehouse jammed floor to ceiling with some guy’s Superman obsession.  If you’re around in early June they have a Superman Celebration every year!

Next Week: all of the Abraham Lincoln in Springfield!

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Road Trip 2018: Stop 3

2018.06.27.004
Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Nashville, Tennessee, June 26nd – June 30th

Stop 1 | Stop 2

On Day 9 I headed out from Chattanooga & drove 150 miles or so northwest to Nashville, with a stop about halfway through at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Manchester.  The park is home to a Native American ceremonial enclosure which was long abandoned by the time Europeans arrived & mistook it for a fort.  I didn’t really see much of the earthworks because I got so hung up on the beautiful waterfalls!  Enclosure Trail is a 1.4-mile loop leading from the visitor’s center along the Duck & Little Duck rivers, as well as to some other trails.  Near Big Falls the trail passes through the ruins of the Stone Fort Paper Company mill, the last of several factories that were built here to take advantage of power supplied by the river.  I only had a couple of hours to spend there but there’s a lot to see & I would love to get back there to hike some more.

Day 10 was just wandering around seeing what the place had to offer.  Downtown Nashville was OK except for having to get after some guy in the middle of a gift shop to get him to stop dancing all up in my personal space.  I think he was part of a scavenger hunt or something, he was in a group all wearing the same t-shirts & headbands, & I kept seeing people all over town wearing the same t-shirts with different colored headbands.  What was the challenge – get a stranger to dance with you?  If it was get a stranger to yell at you they definitely got to check that one off the list.  Anyway I walked down Broadway to the river & it was mostly just bars & kitschy shops so I didn’t hang around long.  I went over to the Parthenon at Centennial Park.  It’s a full-scale replica built for the 1897 Centennial Exposition, complete with 42-foot statue of Athena.  The building also houses an art museum & plaster casts of the original Parthenon Marbles (sometimes referred to as the Elgin Marbles but that’s a whole rant I won’t get into today).  I ended my day at Belle Meade Plantation, which started off as a single cabin on 250 acres purchased by John Harding in 1807.  The property was right on the Natchez Trace, the main trading route between Tennessee & Mississippi.  The farm eventually became a successful thoroughbred breeding & racing operation that allowed Harding to build a large brick house.  John’s son William expanded the house & property before being one of just a few Confederate prisoners sent to the fort where I used to work on Mackinac Island!  The mansion & grounds were very cool & in the middle of a fancy-pants part of town so when I was done with my tour I basically just drove around staring at rich people’s houses.

On Day 11 it rained.  It rained alllll day.  So I headed down the road from my campground to do some indoor exploring.  Gaylord Opryland is a resort & convention center but it’s also basically a jungle inside a building.  There’s 3 sections of garden, complete with waterfalls & a river, all protected from the elements by giant glass domes.  It’s amazing & beautiful & free as long as you park at the shopping mall next door & walk over because parking on site costs a bajillion dollars ($27 – seriously) unless you want to eat at one of the expensive restaurants or stay in the expensive rooms.

On Day 12 I did what I do at least once on every single trip I ever take & went to the zoo.  The Nashville Zoo isn’t huge but has plenty to see, including an aviary with a sloth & a whole pen of guinea pigs that are pretty darn cute.  Plus of course lots of large African animals, monkeys, reptiles, & big cats (I didn’t take many pictures there.  I have no idea why.).  In one corner is the Grassmere Historic Home, which offers tours & a chance to pet heritage breeds of farm animals.

Next Week: nature & Superman in Paducah, Kentucky!

Road Trip 2018: Stop 2

2018.06.24.021Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Chattanooga, Tennessee, June 22nd – June 26th

Stop 1 | Stop 3

ALL THE BATTLEFIELDS.

Seriously I visited so many things related to the Civil War in the second leg of my trip.  On day 5, on the way from Forsyth to Chattanooga, I finally stopped at Sweetwater Creek State Park, another Atlanta site that I’ve been meaning to go to for years.  The park is beautiful but I was really there to see the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company textile mill which was destroyed during the Civil War.  The burned out brick building along the river is so picturesque that it was used as a film set in the Hunger Games.  The interior unfortunately is closed off but it’s an easy hike to see them & the museum at the visitor’s center has a model of the ruin along with several very nice exhibits of the machinery from the days when the mill was in use.

On Day 6 I took a short trip my steam locomotive at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.  Chattanooga was a rail hub of the south during the Civil War so a lot of the sites that aren’t battlefields have to do with trains.  Which are usually presented in their relationships to battlefields.  Anyway the train trip was fun, aside from the guy who made train noises THE. WHOLE. TIME.  At the opposite end of the tracks from the main rail yard the museum has a workshop where they repair historic trains from all over the country.  They also have a turntable which they use to switch the engine around & that was really cool to watch.  That trip was only about a hour but if you’re really into historic trains they also have an all day trip that goes all the way to Summerville, Georgia.  In the afternoon I went for a hike at Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District, where parts of the trail follow the original route of the Trail of Tears.  It was a sobering experience to walk on those paths.  (Be careful not to accidentally wander onto the grounds of the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute like I almost did!)

On Day 7 I took another short rail trip, this time on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, the steepest funicular railway in the U.S.  It runs at a 72.7% grade up the side of Lookout Mountain (home to a battlefield) with beautiful views of the city & surroundings all the way up the incline & from the observation tower at the top.  It’s actually a legit form of public transit used by locals, especially in the winter – it’s certainly safer than driving down the mountain in the snow.  Coming back down off the mountain I headed back into Georgia to the Chickamauga Battlefield (the Chickamauga & Lookout Mountain Battlefields plus Moccasin Bend, Chattanooga National Cemetery, & a couple of other properties collectively form Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park).  Chickamauga has like 762,000 monuments, pretty much one for every single regiment that came anywhere near the war.  I did the cell phone tour, where you drive around the loop & call in to hear the audio tour.  I didn’t stop to see every single monument but I did climb up to the Wilder Brigade Monument for a panoramic view of the whole area.  They also have an insane firearms collection at the visitor’s center, I’m not kidding when I say I think they have every type of gun ever made (at least up until the collection was donated in the 1950s).

Day 8 was dedicated to a totally different activity – a drive to Scottsboro, Alabama to the Unclaimed Baggage Center.  This place is A.MAZ.ING.  It’s like a garage sale, thrift store, junk shop, all rolled into one & on steroids.  It’s literally a huge warehouse full of everything that gets left on planes AND YOU CAN BUY IT.  HOW some of this stuff gets lost I will never know.  The walls have permanent displays of some of the weirder things – ethnic headdresses, musical instruments, priceless antiques.  I think those must be the things that airlines lose entirely (which is pretty wild, I mean how many people are flying with giant Alpine horns that nobody can reunite that with its owner?); there most be some intense angry airline customer stories behind some of it.  Then there’s the stuff that’s for sale – wedding dresses, cameras, laptops, jewelry, mountains of clothing & purses, it just goes on and on and on.  THEN, there’s a warehouse behind the main warehouse where they have clearance stuff & lost commercial shipments so there hundreds of rolls of toilet paper or a zillion tubes of toothpaste.  I bought a charger pack for my phone, a head band for my GoPro, & a practically new U.S. atlas for like $15.

Next week: historic sites & wild animals in Nashville!

Road Trip 2018: Stop 1

2018.06.20.034Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Forsyth, Georgia, June 18th – June 22nd

Stop 2 | Stop 3

About 6 weeks after I graduated from USF I was offered my first job on an archaeological project & headed out on a cross-country adventure from my home in Florida to the job site in Wisconsin.  On Day 1 I drove a little over 350 miles from Hernando, FL to Forsyth, GA, with a stop in Thomasville, home of the Big Oak.  The Big Oak is just that, a 300+ year old live oak tree which has grown to a height of 68 feet & a trunk circumference of 27.5 feet.  I really developed my obsession with KOA cabins on this trip – I bought a membership & it really paid off, 10% off each night plus I earned enough points to get a discount on my way back to Florida & even another whole year of membership for free!  The one in Forsyth is pretty nice, & the location halfway between Atlanta & Macon was great for visiting sites in both cities & the surrounding area.

On Day 2 I visited the beautiful historic downtown area of Macon, which has several historic homes open for tours.  This time through I visited The Cannonball House, which is named after the projectile that came through the living room wall during the Civil War (even though it wasn’t actually a cannonball!).  A few miles away is the prehistoric mound site at Ocmulgee National Monument, which has a museum and recreated earth lodge built around an original 1,000-year-old floor.

On Day 3 I finally made it to Georgia Aquarium!  After years of driving back & forth, each time thinking I’ll go see the whale sharks & then deciding I didn’t feel like dealing with Atlanta, this time I finally went.  It was AMAZING, I could seriously sit there & watch the whale sharks swim around all day, it’s very calming in the dark theater with the blue water & these super chill animals just drifting slowly around their tank.  Apparently they were shipped in from Thailand via UPS, just like all the junk I buy on Amazon.  They have tons of other stuff to see as well, including a dolphin show (avoid the first 10 rows if you don’t want to get wet), sea lions, penguins, & thousands of fish from a variety of ecosystems.

On the way back to Forsyth I stopped at High Falls State Park, which has some nice trails along a river as well as an abandoned ruin of a power plant.  It’s fenced off but the profusion of graffiti says that a lot of people ignore said fence.  It’s still really cool to see though.  On Day 4 I had lunch in Juliette (where parts of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed at the Whistle Stop Cafe & they never let you forget it) & stopped by the historic Jarrell Plantation, where all of the original buildings are open for visiting.  It was owned by the same family for 140 years before the founder’s descendants donated the property to the state.  Also they have goats to pet, & it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Next week: trains & battlefields in Chattanooga!

Event: Dade’s Battle

2019.01.05.028

In 1835 the Florida Seminole were struggling to defend their homeland from the encroachment of white settlers. Tension had been building for over a decade what with the tendency of the Seminole to take in escaped slaves and the U.S. government trying to move them out to Oklahoma. Everything finally exploded in 1835 when Seminole warriors attacked U.S. soldiers under the command of Brevet Major Francis Langhorne Dade who were on their way from Fort Brooke in Tampa to Fort King in Ocala. The soldiers had a cannon but the Seminoles had the element of surprise and claimed victory after a day of fierce fighting. They won the battle, but they ultimately lost the war. The Second Seminole War that started here lasted over 6 years, only ending in 1842 after the deportation of over 90% of the Seminoles – 4,000 people – from their ancestral homes in Florida to Oklahoma.

Dade Battlefield Historic State Park now protects the ground where the battle took place & hosts a reenactment every year in January. I attended this year’s reenactment & found it to be very interesting. The event began on a scary/exciting note when one of the horses threw her rider & went tearing around the park! Fortunately another rider caught her pretty quickly, nobody got hurt, they restarted the battle, & everything went without a hitch after that. There were a couple dozen reenactors on each side, plus a canon firing every couple of minutes, so it was pretty intense! Before & after the battle itself I wandered through the encampment, where a variety of booths sold everything from alligator skulls to Davy Crockett style raccoon hats. The park also has trails & a small visitor’s center with a museum.

I don’t know how it was when they started doing these or how much input the Seminole tribe has with it, so for all I know it’s a huge improvement over what went on in the past & everybody’s happy, but I did find parts of the event to be fairly biased. The Seminole narrator discussed his people’s feelings about their land & the idea of having to leave their homes at the beginning, so that was good, but then at the end he left the scene while the Army narrator talked about trying to escape the battlefield with a friend, so the sympathy ended up being pretty one-sided. One of the speakers, I don’t recall who, said that there were only 3 survivors of the battle, but there were actually only 3 survivors on the Army side of the conflict – nearly all of the Seminoles made it out alive. I get what they’re going for but I think it could still use some tweaking.

Photogrammetry in the Field of Archaeology

Phot1
The steps of photogrammetry – acquisition of images, generation of a point cloud, conversion to a mesh, application of texture (Olivito & Taccola 2014).

This post comes from a paper I wrote for my Digital Archaeology class at the University of South Florida.

Archaeologists are rapidly embracing digital technology as a means to record, explore, and recreate cultural heritage with a high degree of accuracy and the added bonus of never having to risk an object’s conservation as the devices used never have to come into contact with it.  Photogrammetry in particular is an excellent and affordable way to document objects, buildings, or whole landscapes using just a camera and some software.  In this post, I will discuss the methods of photogrammetry as it is used to document objects and landscapes both from the ground and from the air.  I will then use two case studies to show how useful it can be to archaeologists working with both ancient ruins and historic buildings.  Finally I will suggest some challenges to the future of photogrammetry and the field of virtual archaeology in general.

Photogrammetry is a very new tool.  It was mentioned within the Seville Principles, presented in 2010, as one of the new methods available to archaeologists to increase the scientific accuracy of their all-important task of documenting the world’s cultural history (López-Menchero Bendicho 2013).  By the middle of this decade photogrammetry was being used for multiple scholarly projects (Olivito & Taccola 2014; Pierdicca 2015). Its benefits to archaeology, as well as its possible drawbacks, have been widely discussed in books and papers within the last three years (Jeffrey 2015; Olson; Olson & Placchetti 2015).  As discussed in the case of the Vank Cathedral in Section 4, it has even been considered as a viable use of volunteers recruited through crowdsourcing platforms (Spanò, Hashemi, & Nourollahichatabi 2016).  Most recently, photogrammetry has been incorporated into university classes designed to prepare students for using digital archaeology methods, such as one offered at the University of South Florida (Tanasi 2017).


Methods

Photogrammetry involves taking a series of photos which are then combined using software into a highly-detailed and textured 3D model.  Objects, buildings, or even whole archaeological sites can be visualized quickly and cheaply by this method.  Rather than needing expensive and complex equipment, photogrammetry requires only a digital camera and a software package to combine the photos, of which there are easy-to-use options available for free.  The camera used to acquire the images should be at least five megapixels and the focal length of the lens should be no more than 50 millimeters.  All points of the object being modeled must appear in at least three photos in order to align them correctly.  Light should be uniform across the set or landscape and shadows minimized as much as possible.  The software used to combine the photos struggles with very dark, reflective, or transparent surfaces, uniform patterns and solid colors, so objects with these qualities may not be good candidates for photogrammetry (Tanasi 2017, Nov. 25th).  With the images acquired, tie points are extracted to align them and a point cloud is generated.  Texture, taken directly from the photos, can be applied along with quality parameters such as the number of triangles in the model once the point cloud is converted into a solid mesh (Olivito & Taccola 2014).

For photographing small objects the camera should be shifted about 30 degrees around the object for each photo so that there is plenty of overlap.  The background must be a different color from the object so that they do not blend into each other, as the background will have to be masked out of all the photos.  It is important that the object does not move at all; it should be stable before shooting begins and everyone involved must be careful not to bump it or the table it sits on.  Photogrammetric models do not provide an absolute scale; one must be added before work begins.  Color and lighting should be uniform across the set and there is also the option to include color chips so that the photos can all be standardized later.  Because the object must rest on something while the pictures are taken, it must also be flipped over and photographed again to get the bottom part; the two separate models are aligned later after both have been processed (Tanasi 2017, Nov. 25th).  Since the object never comes into contact with the camera used to record it, as it would have using traditional molding techniques, there is no danger to it using photogrammetry (Balletti, Ballarin, & Guerra 2017).

The most straightforward method of capturing images for photogrammetry of a building or monument is to move around it or through it and take pictures of it from all angles, again making sure that there is 60-80% overlap in the images (Olivito & Taccola 2014).  As shown by the case study of the Vank Cathedral in Section 4, this could theoretically be accomplished by volunteers with a little training working in their local areas with their own

Phot2
Models made of an excavation trench before (left) and after (right) removal of a collapse layer (Olivito & Taccola 2014).

cultural heritage (Spanò et al. 2016).  Large buildings or landscapes may require alignment markers or georeferencing in order to orient the images correctly.  The photographer should be careful of capturing his or her own shadow in the photos and try to work on overcast days or quickly enough so that the sun doesn’t move too much during the shoot (Tanasi 2017 Nov. 25th).  Terrestrial photogrammetry can be used to rapidly document an archaeological site during excavation with a high level of detail and very little planning (Pierdicca et al. 2015).

With the advent of affordable remotely-piloted drones, aerial photogrammetry is becoming more available as a tool for the documentation of buildings or sites.  Drones with cameras attached to them can automatically photograph a wide area with little or no intervention once they are set up.  The use of drones for photogrammetry requires first planning out the flight, which should be done by an expert operator.  Flights can follow gridded or circular patterns based on georeferenced images of the area to be photographed.  Other parameters that should be set include speed, altitude, distance between waypoints, and the angle of sight and shooting mode of the camera.  Camera choice is important, as attaching a camera that is too heavy will drain the drone’s batteries and limit flight time.  Weeds or anything else that may affect visibility of the site from the air should be cleared ahead of time.  An expert drone operator may be required for takeoff, landing, and any issues that come up involving wind, obstacles, or loss of signal, but otherwise the drone will automatically follow the pre-loaded settings (Olivito & Taccola 2014)  Current trends in aerial photogrammetry include drones with high-precision GPS and automatic obstacle sensing that give them even further automation (Tanasi 2017, Nov. 27th).


Case Study: The Vank Cathedral

The Vank Cathedral in Iran was built between 1655 and 1664 by Armenian Christians who had immigrated to the area and others who had joined them having fled the Ottoman War.  The church is built in a classic Persian mosque structure with double-shelled domes over a main hall.  The interior of the church is decorated entirely with frescoes painted in a new style reflecting the combination of Armenian and Iranian cultures.  Because of the importance of these frescoes, the focus of the project was to create a photorealistic reconstruction of them using photogrammetry (Spanò et al. 2016).

Another goal was to experiment with how such an endeavor might work if it was taken on using crowdsourcing methods and volunteers with limited training and access to equipment.  In order to simulate such a situation, the team avoided the use of control points and any devices to raise the camera, instead taking precise measurements for scaling and shooting photos at three different vertical inclinations with a 30% overlap.  Any photogrammetry project is highly dependent on the shooting strategy of the photographer and spatial position of the camera, but both concepts seem easy to grasp and perfectly teachable to non-experts (Spanò et al. 2016).

Phot3
Complete model of the interior frescoes of the Vank Cathedral (Spanò et al. 2016).

In order to create the model if the interior decoration of the Vank Cathedral, around 200 photos were taken using a 24 megapixel Nikon camera with an 18mm lens.  The frescoes on the ceiling were captured by laying the camera directly on the floor pointed upwards.  Chandeliers and clear protective coverings of the frescoes at visitor height caused problems; after some experimenting, the team found that the best way to overcome them was to split the project into two separate blocks of the main areas of the church.  These two parts were then reunited by the strip of photos taken of the ceiling.  The accuracy of the resulting point cloud was comparable to what would be expected using control points, with only slightly higher residuals (Spanò et al. 2016).

After combining everything in Agisoft Photoscan, converting the point cloud into a continuous surface, and applying the detailed images of the frescoes as textures using Technodigit 3D Reshaper, the finished model could be projected onto AutoCAD architectural drawings of the cathedral or “unwrapped” to show the painted scenes as a single, uninterrupted image.  Taken together, the frescoes are arranged in five registers which read from right to left depicting lives of prophets, miracles of Christ, and the story of Saint Gregory, the founder of Armenian Christianity, among other scenes from the Old and New Testaments.  By interpreting the paintings as a single image scholars are able to more easily focus on composition and iconography, as well as make comparisons between them and other artworks with similar themes (Spanò et al. 2016).

phot4
The complete “unwrapped” model of the Vank Cathedral interior frescoes.  The gaps directly beneath the domes are caused by the impossibility of photographing these areas (Spanò et al. 2016).

Case Study: Chan Chan

The site of Chan Chan in northern Peru is the largest pre-Columbian town made of mud bricks.  It covers a very large area of fourteen square kilometers and was the capital of the Chimu culture.  Nine palace complexes with walls and public ceremonial courtyards as well as more private inner spaces dot the area.  The palace walls are decorated with bas-relief scenes of fishing and marine life, subjects that must have been important to people living just a few hundred meters from the Pacific Ocean (Pierdicca et al. 2015)

Chan Chan’s location is extremely dry and relatively cool, a situation that has provided for fairly good conservation of the earthen architecture.  However, looting, salt air, and shifting weather patterns have done a significant amount of damage.  As a result, many of the friezes are lost.  The ones that remain have been documented only in photographs and are now protected (and hidden) behind new mud-brick walls.  Combined with limited tourism possibilities and the sprawling nature of the site, it has been impossible to even see the important artworks, much less exhibit them.  Technology is bringing new opportunities to study and display the cultural heritage of Chan Chan (Pierdicca et al. 2015).

In order to create a new augmented reality experience for visitors, the entry gate of one of the palaces, Palacio Rivero, was uncovered for a few hours of photography before being recovered for its protection.

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Finished model of the Palacio Rivero gateway at maximum resolution (Pierdicca et al. 2015).

Because of the necessary speed of the work, short planning timeframe, and lack of available equipment, the team decided to use terrestrial photogrammetry to create their 3D model.  They accomplished this using a 24.3 megapixel Sony camera, with which they collected 440 images at a 40mm focal length with 30% overlap on each photo.  The photos were taken from five points of view and then each set was joined into a separate panorama using stitching software in order to speed up the modeling and texturing processes (Pierdicca et al. 2015).

With the finished panoramas combined in Agisoft Photoscan, the resulting 3D model had almost 200,000 faces and 100,000 vertices.  Such high resolution is great for archaeologists working to document or restore the structure, but the 134 megabyte file was much too large for consumer applications.  By simplifying the model to just over 20,000 faces and 10,000 vertices, the file size was lowered to a little less than two megabytes, which is much easier for smartphones and tablets to handle.

Phot6
Model of the Palacio Rivero gateway presented as augmented reality on an iPad (Pierdicca et al. 2015).

The simplified model was then built into an iOS application that allows visitors to the site to display the model on their screens, projected onto the landscape in front of them.  Thanks to the built-in GPS receiver of the camera that took the original set of photos, the model has terrestrial coordinates written directly into it that mobile devices can use to place the model correctly in its context.  The gyroscope of the device can also orient the model in real time on the screen as the user moves around (Pierdicca et al. 2015).


Future Challenges

Photogrammetry is quickly becoming an integral component of broader digital recording systems used by archaeologists.  Although the value of using this method is well-established as a fast and accurate means to record data in the field, its scholarly value is still under some debate and will depend on how well it is integrated into existing systems of artifact analysis and recording (Olson).  One thing that archaeologists must do in order to realize the full potential of photogrammetric models is to use them in innovative, collaborative ways.  Otherwise they are just fancier, more accurate versions of the tools that are already in use (Olson & Placchetti 2015).  More broadly, visualizations can only engage wide audiences and facilitate the exploration of an individual’s or community’s exploration of their own pasts if such tools make them feel connected to that past.  Without that connection they will remain remote, sanitized tools for professionals and miss out on opportunities with the public (Jeffrey 2015).

With the ability to add more raw data to the record at a faster rate than ever and contributions coming from consumers and volunteers as well as professionals, managing all of that data is quickly becoming a problem.  All of the original photos and scans, processed data, and finished models have to be kept, and multiple backups of everything have to go somewhere.  Cloud storage services are readily available (and widely in use) but keeping projects online and repositories available requires funding.  Connecting the public to the models means they must be decimated for viewing on less-powerful laptops and mobile devices, without losing so much resolution as to be useless.  The perfect 3D viewer for researchers, one with plenty of tools and considered “academic” enough for scholarly work, doesn’t exist yet.  These are all issues which the field of digital archaeology is going to need to tackle over the next several years if it is going to be able to truly use the new technology available to it (Tanasi 2017, Nov. 27th).


Conclusions

     Photogrammetry is an incredibly powerful tool for recording and disseminating cultural heritage.  Using this method of 3D modeling, archaeologists are now capable of recording their sites and the artifacts they excavate as they are working with a high level of accuracy and detail.  They can then use the models to recreate an object, a building, or an entire excavation, and these models can be shared with fellow professionals and with the public.  Photogrammetry is currently being used in projects all over the world, such as the Vank Cathedral in Iran and Chan Chan in Peru, and augmented reality provides the possibility of anyone with a smartphone or tablet to view a 3D model of a building on the landscape in front of them.  There are some hurdles yet to cross, in particular ways to manage and best utilize the models and all of the raw data that goes into their production, but photogrammetry is undoubtedly going to continue gaining wider acceptance in a variety of applications.


References

Balletti C., Ballarin M., Guerra F. 2017, 3D printing: State of the art and future perspectives, Journal of Cultural Heritage 26,172–182.

Bruno F., Bruno S., De Sensi G., Luchi M. L. , Mancuso S. 2010, Muzzupappa M., From 3D reconstruction to virtual reality: A complete methodology for digital archaeological exhibition, Journal of Cultural Heritage 11, 42–49.

Jeffrey S. 2015, Challenging Heritage Visualisation: Beauty, Aura and Democratisation, Open Archaeology 1.1. https:www.degruyter.com/view/j/opar.2014.1.issue-1/opar-2015-0008/opar-2015-0008.xml

López-Menchero Bendicho V. M., 2013, International Guidelines for Virtual Archaeology: The Seville Principles, in Corsi C., Slapšak B., Vermeulen F. (eds), Good Practice in Archaeological Diagnostics, Springer, 269-283

Olivito R., Taccola E. 2014. 3D Modelling in the agora of Segesta: techniques and data interpretation, Archeologia e Calcolatori 25, 2014, 175-188.

Olson B. R., The Things We Can Do With Pictures: Image-based Modeling and Archaeology, in E. Walcek Averett, J. Michael Gordon, D.B. Counts (eds), Mobilizing the past for a digital future, The Digital Press @ University of Dakota, 237-250.

Olson B. R., Placchetti R. A. 2015. A Discussion of the Analytical Benefits of Image Based Modeling in Archaeology, in B. R. Olson, W. R. Caraher (eds), Visions of Substance. 3D Imagining in Mediterranean Archaeology, The Digital Press at The University of North Dakota, 17-26.

Pierdicca et al. R., Frontoni  R. et al. 2015. Making Visible the Invisible. Augmented Reality Visualization for 3D Reconstructions of Archaeological Sites, in L. T. De Paolis, A. Mongelli (eds.), Augmented and Virtual Reality, Proceedings of the Second International Conference, AVR 2015, Lecce, Italy, August 31 – September 3, 2015, 25-37.

Spanò A., Hashemi N., Nourollahichatabi S., 2016. Image-Based Models Using Crowdsourcing Strategy, DigitCult – Scientific Journal on Digital Cultures 1.3, 65-79.

Tanasi D., 2017.  Class Lectures, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.

Boris Savinkov, Revolutionary Patriot

This post comes from a paper I wrote for my History of the Soviet Union class at the University of South Florida.

Early in his career Boris Savinkov was a passionate, courageous fighter for a radical cause that he believed in.  He built a reputation as a “man of action” among social revolutionaries as he took the helm in their terrorist activities.  Disillusionment and depression set in after the betrayal of a comrade and again with the Bolshevik takeover.  His own writings are suggestive of someone struggling but still fighting.  The man of action seemed unable to succeed at anything but was still an influential figure in the battle for Russian freedom.

Savinkov was born in 1879 in Ukraine and received his secondary education in Warsaw.  He had his first encounters with protest and law enforcement as a student, when he was arrested three different times and expelled from Petersburg University for his participation in disturbances and distribution of manifestoes.  He was finally exiled to Vologda in 1902, where he came under the influence of Breshko-Breshkovskaia and became interested in populist socialism.  After his escape in 1903, he made his way to Geneva, where he joined the Battle Organization of the Social Revolutionary Party, serving under a man named Evno Azev (Biggart, 1983).  Savinkov occupied a bit of an odd niche among his new comrades.  His father had been a military court judge, which left him as one of few revolutionaries who was familiar with military life.  His education in Poland also made him sympathetic to the cause of Polish nationalism (Footman, 1958).

Once in the SR’s Battle Organization, Savinkov rose to a leadership position and became responsible for planning their terrorist activities (Florinsky, 1961).  He wandered illegally in and out of Russia for years on SR business.  He orchestrated the assassinations of Interior Minister Plehve in 1904 and the Governor-General of Moscow, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, in 1905.  He organized the execution of a police informant in 1906, the same year he made a spectacular escape after he was arrested in Sevastopol (Footman, 1958).  His activities at this time in his life gave him a reputation as a “man of action,” and he eventually rose to the ranks of the SR Central Committee (Biggart, 1983).  Savinkov seems to have been a happy and passionate true believer in these early years – the kind of revolutionary who wrote poetry over dinner to win a bet.  His first book, Memoirs of a Terrorist, reflects this perspective – it is full of idealist hero-terrorists who abandon their missions rather than throw bombs at children (“Portrait,” 2009).

The golden age of the Battle Organization came to a halt in 1908 when its leader, Azev, was revealed to be an agent of the tsar’s secret police force.  With their terrorist activities discredited, the group was in shambles and never recovered.  Savinkov finally gave up trying to rebuild it in 1911 (Biggart, 1983).  Savinkov himself appears to have had a hard time recovering his idealism and belief in the revolutionary cause.  Tired and disappointed with his comrades, he shocked other members of the SR in 1909 when he asked “If it’s all right to kill a person, then what difference does it make who and with what motive? (“Portrait,” 2009)”  The two novels he wrote in exile in France following Azev’s betrayal suggest a man struggling with depression and disillusionment.  The Pale Horse depicts a passionate, ruthless hero, but one who is not a true believer.  The idealist in the group is shown with sympathy, but the narrator-protagonist is not driven by the same sense of righteousness – he is merely doing his job.  David Footman refers to the novel as “Savinkov as Savinkov liked to see himself.”  The second novel, That Which Was Not, is a miserable work that finds hope only at the end, in the wisdom of peasants and workers.  Later at his trial, Savinkov admitted that he was a member of the SR, “though a bad one,” and this sense of disconnection readily comes though in his fictional work (Footman, 1958).

Savinkov found purpose at the outbreak of war in 1914, when he saw a new chance to fight for freedom and volunteered for the French army.  He had fought against the oppressive regime of the tsar, and upon his return to Russia in 1917 he turned to fighting the oppressive regime of the Bolsheviks.  He told Winston Churchill, “I know them well, Lenin and Trotsky.  For years we worked hand in hand for the liberation of Russia.  Now they have enslaved her worse than ever (Churchill, 1973).”  His reputation led Prime Minister Kerenski of the Provisional Government to give him a post as the commissar of the 7th Army on the southwestern front and later to appoint him as the Assistant Minister of War.  The SR was unhappy with his advancement, but by then he was too disappointed in them to care (Biggart, 1983).  Even his comrades in the government were surprised by the appointment of the assassin to such a post, but no one could deny his abilities (Churchill, 1973).

Savinkov’s reputation and passion gave him the ability to restore order to the chaos of the front, even among those soldiers who had murdered their own officers.  His organizational abilities soon had the administration repaired and the army was able to win a battle at Brzezany in July.  After the disastrous battle at Tarnopol later that month Savinkov requested that the general, Gutor, be replaced by a popular commander named Kornilov.  This tough, rigid, capable soldier seemed like the perfect compliment for the smart, scheming Savinkov.  Together with Kerenski, they might have been able to keep Russia out of Bolshevik hands, but it was not to be (Churchill, 1973).

What came to be known as the Kornilov Affair is debated by historians.  Some see it as an attempted coup, others as a terrible misunderstanding.  According to Richard Pipes, paranoia of a right-wing takeover on Kerenski’s part led him to distrust Kornilov far more than he should have, and potentially set him up to appear as though he were attempting a dictatorial coup.  Savinkov, then Kerenski’s Deputy Minister of War, saw the disconnect between the two men: “[Kornilov] loves freedom…but Russia comes for him first, and freedom second, while for Kerensky…freedom and revolution come first, and Russia second.”  When Savinkov came to Kerenski with information that the Bolsheviks were going to support a German advance in September, Kerenski sent Kornilov to Petrograd and told him to impose martial law there to stamp out the uprising, an odd move on his part since he did not take the Bolshevik threat seriously.  In fact, he may have been orchestrating Kornilov’s downfall (Pipes, 1995).

At this point, a conservative former Duma member named Vladimir Lvov stepped into the situation and created a perfect storm for Kornilov’s dismissal.  He went back and forth between Kerenski and Kornilov telling each that he represented the other and driving a wedge between them.  Savinkov suspected a misunderstanding when Kerenski thought Kornilov was demanding dictatorial power and begged the Prime Minister to talk to the general again, but by then he was demanding his own dictatorship to crush Kornilov’s imaginary coup.  Meanwhile Kornilov advanced on Petrograd against an imaginary Bolshevik coup and asked for the city to be placed under martial law, in Kerenski’s mind confirming his fears.  In the end, both men tried to motivate the Russian peasantry to rise up against the other.  Kerenski had Kornilov charged with treason, despite Savinkov informing him of Lvov’s interference (Pipes, 1995).

The Kornilov affair alienated the Prime Minister from people on both ends of the political spectrum and benefitted the Bolsheviks immensely.  Many of them were released from prison, they made huge gains in the municipal elections at the expense of the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries, they ended up with thousands of weapons that Kerenski himself had given them to help him defend Petrograd against Kornilov, and Kerenski lost the support of the military, who then did nothing to save him from the October Revolution (Pipes, 1995).  For his part, Savinkov was given the post of Military Governor of Petrograd for all of three days before Kerenski dismissed him (Footman, 1958).  When he was summoned before the SR Central Committee to account for his role in the affair, he didn’t even care about what they thought enough show up, ending his relationship with the party (“Portrait,” 2009).  Other authors have characterized the Kornilov Affair as a failed mutiny (Florinsky, 1961; “Portrait, 2009) or a confusing result of the chaos of war (Churchill, 1973).  According to John Biggart, Savinkov blamed Kerenski for betraying the army (Biggart, 1983).

Savinkov spent the rest of the Russian Civil War fighting with whichever counter-revolutionaries would have him.  He joined a group of Cossacks in a failed attempt to take the Winter Palace from the Communists, a venture that might have changed everything had they been successful.  Along with General Kornilov, he helped to establish the White Army.  He tried and failed to found the Union for the Defense of the Motherland and Freedom (“Portrait,” 2009).  Under General Alekseev, he recruited 5,000 officers and sought financial and political help for a unit of the White Army that was supposed to wait in Yaroslavl for the rest of the army to make their approach and then lead an uprising.  It might have gone better had not the mistress of one of his officers betrayed them to the Cheka and gotten 100 people arrested and executed.  Afraid of losing his men and short on cash, Savinkov made his move, taking Yaroslavl and two other nearby cities.  He later claimed that the Allies had promised help and may have believed that success for his group would inspire a popular anti-Communist rebellion, but neither the help nor the rebellion ever came and the Communists took back Yaroslavl after sixteen days of fighting.  Savinkov escaped, but 350 of his men were executed (Pipes, 1995).  His books from this time suggest that he had fallen back into despair (“Portrait,” 2009).

Savinkov next participated in an anti-Bolshevik raid from Kazan under General Kappel before moving on to Omsk, where he fell in with Minister of War Kolchak and Avksentiev of the Omsk Directorate.  By then his many failures kept him from any real responsibility.  The Omsk authorities sent him as an envoy to Paris, where he worked with the British Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, to send British supplies back to Russia (Footman, 1958).  He found himself quite popular among Russian émigrés in France, who seemed to have forgiven him for his past misdeeds as a terrorist as well as his role in the Kornilov Affair (“Portrait,” 2009).

In 1919, with the White Army defeated, Savinkov was invited to Warsaw to discuss the possibility of him raising army units comprised of Russian refugees living in Poland.  At the outbreak of the Russo-Polish War and the failure of Ukrainian separatists to come to Poland’s assistance, he finally got the chance to organize his men.  At this point in his life, Savinkov seems not to have found anyone worthy of his effort.  He did not get along with anyone, did not like any of the possible commanders, wanted the Russian units to be independent even though Poland was footing the bill, treated his deputy Derenthal poorly, and there were even rumors about his relationship with Mrs. Derenthal.  With an armistice signed while they were still in camp, the Russian units decided to fight alone.  The Russian National Army of Liberation advanced to Mozyr before meeting Red opposition and was subsequently decimated in fighting that was nasty even against the atrocities of the Russian Civil War.  Savinkov blamed the commanders that he had not liked in the first place (Footman, 1958).

With this final disappointment, Savinkov came the conclusion that the Bolsheviks could not be overthrown by an external force, but would have to be taken down from within, by the Russian workers and peasants he had praised a decade earlier in That Which Was Not.  Even so, he kept fighting.  He launched the Green Movement, which demanded the abolition of the Cheka, free elections in the Soviets, and the right to private property, in an attempt to unify opposition.  He formed the Russian Political Center in Warsaw, and wanted a return to the use of assassination and sabotage.  Financed by Poland and France, he recruited agents from what was left of the Russian National Army of Liberation and sent them into Russian territory, where they probably gathered some intelligence but never managed to whip up enough fervor among the peasantry for an uprising.  A lack of loyalty and control among his agents resulted in double-crossing and banditry, and yet another failure.  Finally, he was expelled from Poland at Russia’s request, and returned to France (Footman, 1958).

Ever the schemer, Savinkov kept in touch with his revolutionary organizations, talked with Mussolini, and visited Czechoslovakia.  He wrote The Black Horse in 1923, about a disillusioned hero who kept fighting anyway.  Lured back to Russia with the promise of an underground group there waiting for him to lead them, Savinkov was arrested at the border on August 20th, 1924.  His trial, one which lacked the trappings typical of Soviet state trials, ended in the middle of the night on August 29th, and his death sentence was commuted to imprisonment that evening.  He spent most of his trial describing his own disillusionment, but did manage to say that he had found that the Russian people liked the Soviet regime, despite not having seen or talked to any of them (Footman, 1958).

Imprisoned at Liubianka, Savinkov was kept comfortable with books, newspapers, visitors, and occasional car rides through the city.  He continued writing short stories and open letters to his left-wing comrades, telling them that the Russian people were working hand-in-hand with the government to fix the problems with the regime.  His friend Burstev, the man who had outed Azev as a double agent back in 1908, called him a liar.  Soviet authorities announced Savinkov’s death five days after it had occurred, on May 12th, 1925 (Footman, 1958).  They claimed he threw himself out of a prison window, but to this day no one knows if that is actually true.  Many of his former SR comrades were now working for the Cheka, and could easily have gotten rid of him.  It has even been claimed that he was murdered at the border in 1924 and everything else was staged (“Portrait,” 2009).

Savinkov’s trial and death created much controversy among his Russian émigré friends.  Some kept faith with him, but others believed that he had set everything up with the Soviets himself before his return and considered him a traitor.  According to David Footman, the precarious position of the Soviets in the 1920s would have led them to seek the cooperation of men like Savinkov.  If they could get him, someone so central to the counter-revolutionary cause, to turn on his friends, it would help solidify their situation.  Burstev wrote that Savinkov probably never believed the promises of acquittal and government jobs that were being made in exchange for his confession and support, but thought himself crafty enough to outwit the Soviet authorities, if he played his cards right.  For their part, the Soviets did not believe a word he said either, so his plans failed one last time (Footman, 1958).

Opinions of Savinkov’s life differ.  British agents who knew him during and after the revolution had an intense admiration for him.  Winston Churchill thought highly enough of him to include an essay on him in Great Contemporaries, saying “…few men tried more, gave more, dared more and suffered more for the Russian people (Churchill, 1973).”  R.H. Bruce Lockhart called him “the famous Social-Revolutionary.”  Savinkov visited Lockhart in Prague in the company of another Brit, Sidney Reilly, the two of them scheming together to bring down the Bolsheviks (Lockhart, 1934).  Likewise Oliver Radkey, an American writing about them later, thought the true believers among the SR terrorists to be brave, hard-working souls with a difficult task (Radkey, 1958).  The Polish-American historian Richard Pipes called him “efficient and courageous (Pipes, 1995).”  On the other hand, Russian Life magazine, controlled by Russian Information Services, calls him “a disillusioned decadent who had seen and done so many awful things in his life (“Portrait,” 2009).”

Boris Savinkov was instrumental in the effort to depose the tsar, and had he succeeded in any of his many ventures against the Bolsheviks, he might have changed the history of the world.  He was influential enough among counter-revolutionaries for the Soviet authorities to set an elaborate trap for him.  Today, he is viewed as either a courageous patriot or a bloodthirsty killer, depending on the writer’s feelings about Russia and Communism.  In a meeting recounted by Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister Lloyd George said he believed the worst of the Communist revolution to be over and that the Bolshevik regime would soon collapse.  “’Mr. Prime Minister,’ said Savinkov in his formal way, ‘you will permit me the honour of observing that after the fall of the Roman Empire there ensued The Dark Ages (Churchill, 1973).’”  Given the problems encountered by Eastern European and Central Asian countries since the collapse of the Soviet Union, maybe he was right.

 

Works Cited:

Biggart, John, “Savinkov, Boris Viktorovich,” in The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, Vol. 33, Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press, 1983, 113-16 (available in some academic/library settings)

Churchill, Winston S., “Boris Savinkov,” in Great Contemporaries, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1973, 125-33

Florinsky, Michael T., M.A., Ph.D., ed, “Savinkov, Boris Viktorovich,” in McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1st ed, New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1961, 496-97

Footman, David, “Boris V. Savinkov: 1879-1925,” in History Today, February 1958: 73-8 (requires membership/subscription)

Lockhart, R.H. Bruce, Retreat From Glory, New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1934

Pipes, Richard, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 1st ed, New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995, 130-132

“Portrait of a terrorist: Boris Savinkov (born January 19, 1879),” in Russian Life, 2009, 24, Academic OneFile, EBSCOhost: 24-25 (requires membership/subscription)

Radkey, Oliver Henry, The Agrarian Foes of Bolshevism: Promise and Default of the Russian Socialist Revolutionaries February to October 1917, New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1958.