Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sherd Digitizing

Archaeological reports are often illustrated with drawings of artifacts, rather than photographs.  Historically, this may be due to the difficulty of taking photographs or the cost of reproducing them. However, there are still at least two good reasons to use drawings rather than (or at least in conjunction with) photographs. First, drawings often reproduce better than photos; by the third copy of a copy, most photos are incomprehensible blurs of pixels.  Second, even in an original, schematic drawings often do a better job of presenting the characteristics of interest than photographs.  For example, it’s quite difficult to take a photograph that accurately presents the profile (cross section of the original pot shape) of a sherd, but drawing one isn’t all that hard.
Following this general logic, we drew several examples of each type in the Calixtlahuaca Project type collection.  The drawing was a piecemeal process over several field seasons, followed by an intensive push last summer to finish things off.  Especially during the last season, students from UAEM’s Tenancingo archaeology program did much of the drawing.  Hopefully, this provided them with a general idea of what Postclassic ceramics look like in the Toluca Valley, and knowledge of how our project chose to classify that diversity.

Rosario and Edgar drawing in the lab at the Colegio Mexiquense
Once back at ASU, we continue to rely on a dedicated team of student volunteers.  Here, they scan the field drawings and then trace the image of each sherd in Adobe Illustrator. With the exception of a few artifact types where showing relief is important (such as figurines), the resulting drawings are schematic, with paint colors represented by standardized shades of grey.  The images can be combined in various ways and will be useful not only for illustrating things in the next couple years, such as our final informe for the Mexican government, but also for publications years from now.
Kea digitizing in the office at ASU

1 comment:

Michael E. Smith said...

Hey, shouldn't these dedicated student workers be named? At least those in the photos.