TECHNOLOGY - Christmas 2015

1. LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND—Researchers from the Idiap Research Institute of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the Digital Humanities Laboratory of the College of Humanities are working with Maya epigraphers to create a digital catalog of Mayan hieroglyphs from the three codices that survived the Spanish conquest. They have analyzed thousands of symbols, some of which have been drawn in different ways over time and in different regions. “Each image tells a story. Sometimes we can guess their meaning with the help of people who still speak this language today, and also by using glossaries,” Idiap researcher Rui Hu said in a press release. This new tool will help scholars quickly identify a hieroglyph and its meaning, and see what common combinations of symbols in a block of text are. “This research is of great interest to Mayanists, given the potential of such novel multidisciplinary approaches for overcoming obstacles resulting from applying more traditional methods,” explained Carlos Pallán Gayol of Bonn University. The project could one day lead to a machine translation tool for Mayan iconography and writing. To read more about Mayan hieroglyphs, go to "The Maya Sense of Time."  More Information ..http://www.archaeology.org/news/3846-151102-maya-hieroglyphs-technology

2. TULSA - Archaeology Magazine September/October 2015. Bob Pickering has been working for
years on West Mexican figures taking a unique approach in forensic authentication by examining the internal surface of these ceramics with an endoscope. Specifically Pickering has been looking in layman's term bug casing that can be tested as organic material by a laboratory equipped for carbon dating. Considering that most of these objects are cleaned leaving them without critical surface data for testing this approach is brilliant in its simplicity. Pickering believes these shaft tomb figures offer us a "snapshot" on the past revealing how this culture lived and died.  Certainly his approach approach can provide a definitive methodology for authenticating these objects. It is certain that such unassailable technology will create ambivalence for many curators and collectors. To know or not to know is the question. Pickering has an upcoming book which we will feature in a subsequent newsletter. Frankly I can't wait to see it.