Archaeology of the International Space Station
Justin Walsh, Alice Gorman, and Wendy Salmond
The explicit goal of the International Space Station Archaeological Project (ISSAP) is to provide an understanding of material culture as a key component of life in space, on par with the research by biomedical and psychological scholars that has been ongoing since the 1960s. We take as our inspiration a phrase first used in the National Academy of Sciences report Human Factors in Long-Duration Spaceflight, which described a crewed spacecraft as “a microsociety in a miniworld” (Lindsley 1972, 23). One of our primary methods is the cataloguing of people and elements of material culture (objects and built spaces) from photographs taken during ISS missions, or “Expeditions,” as they are known (Walsh and Gorman 2021). We use photos because we are unable to visit ISS and observe it directly as archaeologists. The data for this study consists of a series of 48 historic photographs dating between November 2000 (Expedition 1, the beginning of habitation of ISS) and April 2014 (Expedition 39) which depict life in the Russian Zvezda module. This survey forms the first systematic investigation of the material culture of a space habitat. The photographs provide an extraordinary window on the lives, activities, beliefs, and interests of ISS crew. In this study, we focus on practices of visual display. The items crew members use to adorn the station walls alter the visual experience of the interior, provide a personal and earthly touch in the space machine environment, and say something about the values of the crew. It is also a material practice which sheds light on the evolution of a space culture.
We catalogued 414 instances of 75 unique items on display in the 48 photographs. All of the images were accessed from NASA’s Johnson Space Center public Flickr account (NASA 2020). Each photo was chosen because it showed some change in the configuration of items in the aft space of Zvezda, relative to earlier images. The locations of the items were also recorded, so that their appearance, disappearance, movement, and relationships to other items and the general area could be assessed.
Lindsley, Donald B. 1972. 'Summary and Major Recommendations.' In Human Factors in Long-Duration Spaceflight. National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, pp. 15-30. https://doi.org/10.17226/12387,
Salmond, Wendy, Justin St. P. Walsh and Alice C. Gorman 2020, 'Eternity in Low Earth Orbit: Icons on the International Space Station', Religions, vol. 11, p. 611, https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110611.
"Consumerism in the Ancient World: Imports and Identity Construction" data files
Justin St. P. Walsh
These files were created for the book Consumerism in the Ancient World: Imports and Identity Construction (Routledge 2014). They include almost 24,000 Greek vases or fragments of vases dating ca. 800-300 BCE from 233 sites in Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland. The maps illustrate the results of a geostatistical technique called kriging, which predicts distributions of vases on the basis of samples. The maps are available in the original ArcGIS format or in reduced versions as multi-layer PDFs.
Access Database (.ACCDB, .CSV, and .XLSX): Contains the original database, as well as the major tables from the database in widely-used spreadsheet formats, for those who do not have Microsoft Access.
ArcGIS maps (.MPK): The full map files, including data (requires ArcGIS, version 10.1 or higher).
Excel spreadsheets (.CSV and .XLSX): The spreadsheet files which were used to prepare data from the database before importing into ArcGIS for generating maps.
Multi-layer PDFs: The maps in Adobe Reader format. These maps include all of the layers found in the ArcGIS maps, but due to technical limitations do not have legends which explain the precise ranges associated with color contours, as are found in .MPK versions above. In general, for the kriging layer, blue and green are associated with low predicted values and orange and red are associated with high predicted values. For the kriging error layer, the areas surrounded by the black contour line are associated with the lowest predicted error (and thus the highest confidence), while the areas surrounded by lighter contour lines are associated with successively greater error and reduced confidence. The files are grouped by the type of analysis: artifact counts (N), presence-absence, and Simpson's Index of Diversity (SDI).
Severan Marble Plan of Rome data files
Justin St. P. Walsh
In its original state, the Severan Marble Plan of Rome, placed on the wall of the Temple of Peace between 203 and 211 CE, showed viewers the locations of buildings throughout Rome, and even the groundplan of each of those buildings. It is today an extraordinary piece of evidence for understanding the city in that time period, despite its ruinous state. It survives in over 1,100 fragments, representing only about 10% of its original surface area. To date, scholars have successfully placed only about 100 of those fragments with respect to the buildings they depict. Using GIS and CAD software, I have digitized those fragments whose locations are known and placed them in their appropriate positions over a topographical map and satellite image of the modern city. The file is geo-referenced using the UTM coordinate system, so that the photos and drawings correspond to real-world coordinates. I correlated the placement of individual buildings with excavated remains. Scholars have long known that there are surveying errors on the Plan, though there is disagreement about the number and extent of those errors. One advantage of digitization is its flexibility; one can not only adjust the placement of any individual fragment for greater accuracy, but can also change the spacing and orientation of different buildings on a single fragment. This project gives the most precise understanding yet of the surveying and cartographic methods employed on the Plan, and it allows for the ready integration of future information from newly excavated remains.
The included documents consist of .TIF raster files showing the fragments from La pianta marmorea di Roma antica, by Carettoni, Colini, Cozza, and Gatti (1960); a rectified 1980’s-era Soviet satellite image of the city; a scan of a 1:25,000 military map made by the Italian Istituto Geografico Militare published in 1949; the .DWG file with all of the above placed in it, along with vector layers showing the edges of map fragments and the carvings on the maps. There is also a PDF export of the .DWG file with layers, and a PDF document explaining the project.
Below you may find selected data sets from Art faculty in the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.
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