How AI Can Help in Archaeology

This article concentrates on the implementation of AI in Archaeology and its potential in the field. Although some may consider this topic outside of their primary interests, not knowing the core points on the subject may be devastating.

Why? Archaeologists utilize AI in many ways, from creating 3D models of historical sights to scanning territories with a laser radar to find ancient graves. Moreover, new methods have recently been tested and are almost ready for implementation in practice. The article helps explore a field of study where the past and the present work together.

One more moment is that AI helps archeologists perform excavations and makes artifacts and cultural properties more available to people. Scientists suppose that in the nearest future, they will be able to satisfy the audience by presenting archaeological values virtually.

Last but not least, it is impossible to believe what machine learning methods can do to help archaeologists achieve their goals. Artificial intelligence, in combination with history, makes miracles come true.

What is Archaeology?

Archaeology is a profession where people work with ancient materials and historical places. Professionals in this field perform various types of excavation works, analyze artifacts found during the groundworks and in historical residential areas, and try reconstituting ancestors’ culture and life during different epochs. Archaeologists are also responsible for preserving places of historical importance.

Archaeology includes diverse fields of study. The most common types of archaeologists are the following:

  • Environmental archaeologists 
  • Classical archaeologists 
  • Underwater archaeologists 
  • Ethnoarchaeologists
  • Historical archaeologists.

Although this profession includes a lot of excavation and digging processes, there are several aspects where AI can help. Moreover, the application of Artificial Intelligence in the previously mentioned fields of Archaeology will have something in common; however, in some cases, its utilization will differ. Currently, archaeologists implement diverse machine learning methods that help them in various analytical processes and get more precise information about the past. 

The Utilization of AI

Archaeologists utilize AI in various ways, such as analyzing textile and natural materials, identifying archaeological features, classifying them, and structuring received information. Moreover, artificial intelligence makes excavations much easier.

For example, archaeologists often face such problems as not knowing where exactly to dig. They can define the region but not the exact place where an artifact or a grave lies. It’s when the neural network comes in line. Instead of looking through millions of documents by themselves, archaeologists pass this work to neural networks. This technology can sort out information by utilizing a specific algorithm. By analyzing images, this system might not only direct archaeologists in their groundworks but also suggest territories that have similar patterns as potential objects for excavations.

Additionally, archaeologists often use laser radar for building three-dimensional landscape images. You can understand the principles of 3D mapping and laser radar utilization thanks to this interview: Interview with Radhika Arora, Director – Autonomous Vehicles, Intelligent Sensing Division, ON Semiconductor. Satellite imaging and Google Maps help detect potential archaeological treasures. 

The Most Recent Improvements

One of the recently developed methods is the utilization of AI for rock art analysis. Additionally, more archaeologists started implementing 3D documentation in their work, even though this area of AI usage has some inconveniences. Additionally, diverse machine learning methods help mitigate future risks at archaeological attractions, such as potential damage or over-tourism.

Archaeologists also started implementing artificial intelligence for reconstructing missing texts on ancient artifacts. Moreover, this new AI tool helps scientists define the timeframe and origin of the examined cultural property. Therefore, the estimations tend to be more accurate and help save time that researchers would spend on a manual investigation. 

What to Expect Next?

Scientists rest their hopes upon the usage of Artificial Intelligence for the detection of artifact movement. The problem of the dark web or selling cultural property on the Internet is one of the most urgent for Archaeologists. Hence, AI is trained to detect such suspicious traffic of historical treasures.

Although this direction of machine learning underwent numerous tests, it is not ready to be applied in practice. The vast majority of detection operations are performed manually at the moment. However, if this project succeeds, it will be able to prevent illegal activities related to art. Moreover, this technology will be beneficial for military forces and the police.

Additionally, 3D modeling is a meaningful part of Archaeology; however, currently, professionals do it manually. Recently, researchers have concentrated on methods involving visual programming language and artificial intelligence to model diverse historical objects. To know more about visual programming, you can read this AITJ article: What Language to Choose to Talk to AI.  This approach would help create virtual museums with artifacts and archaeological sites and provide updated information much faster. 

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