Using cutting-edge scanners and computers, UC Merced archaeology Professor Maurizio Forte is able to reconstruct the past in 3-D.
Forte, along with graduate and undergraduate researchers, spent summer 2010 in Çatalhöyük, an ancient settlement in Turkey. The team used laser scanners to capture each layer peeled back by archaeologists. They also excavated artifacts and scanned them into a digital format that can be turned into a 3-D computer image. Those renderings can be manipulated and interpreted by scholars around the world.
"Every second, every day, we lose a lot of sites in the world," Forte explained. "We are not able to preserve everything. What do we do? Well, we try to record and record."
Forte and his students went to Turkey as part of a three-year collaboration with Stanford University, the Çatalhöyük Project and University College of London. Çatalhöyük is a well-preserved, pre-urban Neolithic site that's about 10,000 years old. Forte's team is the first to use 3-D techniques there.
"All the sites being uncovered today in present-day Turkey are giving insight about the great developments of social interaction and communities living together and settling in certain areas," graduate student Carlos Bazua said. "We can see the transition from hunting and gathering to a sedentary lifestyle."
Julia Cline was among the undergraduate students who were in Turkey for the summer. She said she was blown away at how developed the people who lived there were, even nearly 10,000 years ago. Cline spent mornings scanning artifacts and the afternoons excavating the site.