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VIDEO: Writer McCall-Smith wins a pig

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 14:47
Novelist Alexander McCall-Smith has won the unusual prize of a pet pig after winning the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize at the Hay Literary Festival.
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VIDEO: NI faces crucial welfare reform vote

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 14:09
Northern Ireland Assembly members are debating the final stage of the controversial welfare reform bill.
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Bronze Age Egtved girl was not from Denmark

Stonepages - Tue, 2015-05-26 13:13
Egtved Girl was a Nordic Bronze Age girl whose well-preserved remains were discovered outside Egtved, Denmark in 1921. Aged 16 to 18 at death, she was slim, 160 centimetres tall,...
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Hundreds of gaming pieces found in Utah cave

Stonepages - Tue, 2015-05-26 13:12
A cave on the shore of Utah's Great Salt Lake is giving archaeologists a rare glimpse into prehistoric gambling. Cave 1 has proven to hold a profusion of artefacts, most...
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VIDEO: What is the Queen's Speech?

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 12:10
Ellie Price delivers a quick guide to the Queen's Speech.
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VIDEO: Baddiel: 'My son gave me book idea'

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 11:43
At this year's Hay Festival, writer and comedian David Baddiel has launched his first book for children, The Parent Agency.
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VIDEO: 'Sensational' Norwich boss earns praise

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 10:54
Norwich react to securing an instant return to the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the play-off final at Wembley.
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The Viking’s grave and the sunken ship

Heritage Daily - Tue, 2015-05-26 10:50
Mapping archaeological digs takes plenty of time and a lot of measuring, photographing, drawing and note taking. Now, most of this work can be done with a technique called photogrammetry.

Photogrammetry is a method that uses two-dimensional images of an archaeological find to construct a 3D model.

You don’t need and special glasses or advanced equipment to use make use of this new technique. Together with precise measurements of the excavation, photogrammetry can create a complete detailed map of an archaeological excavation site.

“This is still a very new technique,” say archaeologists Raymond Sauvage and Fredrik Skoglund of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s University Museum.

Photogrammetry is in many ways much more precise than older, more time-consuming methods.

Viking graves

This method is already being put to use by archaeologists. When a possible Viking grave was found in Skaun in Sør-Trøndelag in 2014, the excavation site was mapped using photogrammetry.

The manner in which artefacts are found, how deeply the are buried and where they are placed in relation to each other can provide a lot of information to archaeologists studying a site.

Photogrammetry also makes it easier for archaeologists to share their findings with others. The 3D models that are produced can be saved as normal PDF files, which can be sent to colleagues for input.

Saving time

The two archaeologists are very enthusiastic. A Russian company has developed the program that they’re using at the museum. The program is easy to use and gives good results. The development and use of the technique has exploded in recent years.

“There’s a lot more interest in photogrammetry now. The new program is readily available and inexpensive,” says Sauvage.

He explains that it provides the kind of quality and detail that you could only dream of a few years ago. Even though the method requires some work, it still saves a lot of time.
“In one day, you can get three million measurement points. Before, we were satisfied with 3000,” he says.

And those 3000 points could take a long time to find. This method can save archaeologists weeks of work with tape measures, sketching paper and cameras. The practical work in the field goes much quicker.

“This frees up a lot more time for things like research,” Skoglund says.

Old finds

Similar results have been achieved in the past using laser equipment and early versions of a photogrammetry program. But this has been very expensive, and takes a lot of time and resources.

The new program only costs a few hundred euros, meaning that it is much more widely available.

With a photogrammetry program, three or four pictures from different angles are enough to make a simple 3D model, although more images will provide a higher quality model. You can use any normal camera.

“The more images, the better the quality,” Sauvage says.

It is also possible to use images of old finds to build a 3D model based on them. For example, you could make a model using photos from previous excavations of Viking graves, and use this to explore how an excavation site changes over time.

Shipwreck

Marine archaeologist Skoglund has tried this with the Dutch ship “De Grawe Adler” (the Grey Eagle), which sank in 1696 by Strømsholmen in Hustadvika, on the coast of central Norway and was discovered in 1982 when dredging for sand destroyed parts of the ship.

“I swam along the whole length of the wreck a few years ago and took pictures,” Skoglund says.

He did so with out ever considering the possibility of making a 3D model of the wreck. The fact that the photos were taken underwater makes it slightly harder to put them together, but it is by no means impossible.

If the results are precise enough, they can be used to monitor the decomposition of the ship. Finds under water tend to be particularly fragile, but decomposition can be difficult to see. You can’t just dive down every few years to make sure that everything is OK. With this new method, the decomposition can be measured much more precisely, and appropriate protection measures can be put in place.

The future

The next step is likely to be able to put on a pair of 3D-glasses and virtually walk into an excavation site, although that may be a few years in coming.

There is one challenge, however — storing measurements digitally in a manner that will be useful for generations to come. Archaeologists working today are behind measurements and notes on excavations that may be used hundreds of years in the future. A paper photo taken 100 years ago is just as good now as it was then, as long as you have it on hand. But nobody knows if a PDF file will be of use in year 2115. But this is a challenge facing all information that is stored digitally. And it’s something that we can’t overcome.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

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VIDEO: Do pre-pay meters hit the poorest?

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 10:13
The energy watchdog Ofgem says it will investigate the installation of pre-payment energy meters in the homes of customers who have run up debt on their bills.
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VIDEO: Ryanair: 'We've listened and improved'

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 09:12
Budget airline Ryanair has reported a 66% rise in profits for the year to the end of March of €867m (£614m; $948m)
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VIDEO: Didcot murders: Police focus shifts

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 07:05
Detectives looking for triple murder suspect Jed Allen will shift their attention to the circumstances of the killings after he was found dead in a wooded area of Oxford.
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VIDEO: Cameron asks Juncker for EU change

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 06:46
David Cameron has told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that "British people are not happy with the status quo" in Europe.
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VIDEO: Where does Crossrail waste earth go?

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 06:32
The BBC's Andrew Bomford finds out where the millions of tonnes of earth go that have been excavated during the cross rail project.
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VIDEO: My cerebral palsy story - in animation

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-26 00:02
Bristol schoolgirl Tegan, 14, creates animation to help her friends understand her differences.
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Where's Wolsey? Hunt is on to find the remains of Cardinal Wolsey in Leicester

24 Hour Museum - Tue, 2015-05-26 00:00
Following the discovery of Richard III in a Leicester car park, there are hopes that the discovery of England's most famous cardinal could draw further attention to the city's rich medieval past.
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Archaeologists discover burials during conservation work on churches on the Hebrides

24 Hour Museum - Tue, 2015-05-26 00:00
Archaeological work carried out before a major conservation project on two Hebridian churches has unearthed graves and other finds.
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Vicious, debased and blasphemous: Oxford academic uncovers scandalous side of Greek epic

24 Hour Museum - Tue, 2015-05-26 00:00
An Oxford academic has uncovered a new, bloodier and far more scandalous side to the Theban chapter of what is known, along with the Trojan War and others, as the Epic Cycle.
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VIDEO: Younger voters 'should get EU vote'

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-25 22:54
Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn has said it was "a matter of principle" that 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in the EU referendum.
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VIDEO: Jet-powered bike tested in Wales

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-25 18:04
A jet-powered bike has been tested at Pendine Sands in Wales in preparation for a land speed world record.
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VIDEO: Watch Chelsea's victory parade

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-25 16:23
Chelsea celebrate their Premier League title at a packed victory parade in West London.
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