From the 11th to the 13th of November, the conference about “Cultural Heritage and New Technologies” were held for the 18th time in Vienna. I took part with a contribution about the Uruk visualisations and more importantly, how we should perceive and communicate virtual reconstructions.

I learned really a lot the last few days. I was actually not aware what Photogrammetry is capable of and how detailed and effortless one can document and visualise an archaeological trench or distinct features. A very impressive presentation was given by Andrea Braghiroli, who used actually very simple methods to document a small temple-shrine in 3D. The results were very impressive and as far as I understood, it was all done with freeware.

Another interesting talk was given by Isto Huvila, who talked about the usability of information and did this by the simple example of a ball-point pen. He demonstrated, that even with something we already know, it is very difficult to attribute function to it. Why should we do this more correctly with archaeological data, which we definitely know less?

Mohammad Nabil from Egypt presented a very good way of utilising 360° panoramic views for heritage documentation. When you record in 3D it obviously is always a problem, that the sun creates uneven illuminated faces. If you record over a period of time, the sun moves and the photographs become very inhomogeneous. By simply recording at different times and overlay the pictures on top of another, he overcame that problem very easily.

These are just a few examples of the talks I have heard, but the general tendency of the conference was different kinds of data acquisition. As impressive as that was, in my opinion it lacked the theoretical background. As I am no specialist in data acquisition, one could argue, that the theoretical background is already in everybody’s mind. Still, I missed at least some remarks about the meaning of that technology for archaeology and a theoretical background for using it.

Nevertheless, I had a very interesting and informative time. I realized that, although it was not a very big conference (maybe 60 people?), all the specialists for that topic from around the world were summoned here. It was a bit nerdy some times, but in a very good way.