Technology inevitably plays an essential role in the future of archaeology and preservation. As excavation costs continue to increase, the ever improving technological advancements in remote sensing and 3-dimensional modeling will prove indispensable, especially as the world population continues to grow and become increasingly urban, threatening past, present, and future cultural heritage sites. This project works with digital data and a sample of Indian mound sites in the Mississippi Delta in order to develop a methodology for digitally documenting and archiving archaeological sites for the public via the internet. The sites are part of a larger set of sites with which the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) are working to create a cultural Mississippi Mound Trail (MMT) throughout the state. The methodology developed for creating a virtual model of the terrain involves downloading a digital elevation model (DEM); processing it in and exporting it from Esri ArcMap; importing it to L3DT to create a terrain texture and exporting it as a mesh; uploading the compressed mesh file to Sketchfab.com, and embedding the model viewer into a website created with the Google Sites product. The methodology developed for hosting pictures of the sites involves taking a series of digital photographs from several points at each site, organizing the pictures by location, creating a shapefile in ArcMap of the points from which the pictures were taken, creating maps for each site and location, and uploading them to a website using Google Picasa.
For this thesis project, the focus is on utilizing various remotely sensed and physically gathered spatial, visual, and historical information in order to create interactive photographic tours and virtual models for prehistoric sites in Mississippi, both as the sites are currently and how they would look today without modern buildings and overgrowth. A website hosts the interactive virtual reconstructions, site maps, background information, historic photographs, and modern photographs.
Research is being conducted on nineteen prehistoric mound sites in the southern Delta region of Mississippi chosen by Dr. H. E. Jackson, research head for this area, as the sites that are most accessible and would benefit from further research. The final product of this portion of the research will be a virtual tour of each prehistoric mound site located in the Mississippi Delta region, as a part of the MMT project, funded by MDOT and MDAH. The sites from the project on which this research focuses are in the region between Vicksburg and Greenville, located in the counties of Humphreys, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren, Washington, and Yazoo (Table 1 below). Though all of the sites have been previously surveyed in some manner, not all of the sites have been thoroughly excavated, so the time periods of the sites are not final assertions as there may very well be more occupations evident than already noted (Tables 1 and 2 below). Most every site includes extensive photographic documentation and a simple terrain model, though there are a few exceptions. Original field notes, photographs, and site maps for many of the sites are available from the LMS Archives Online, and Phillips' (1970) collection of site surveys that add a great deal about the background information already known and inferred about the sites included in the study area. Historic photographs from the LMS Online Archive are included on the website where available.
This website is built using the free web development tool and host Google Sites and is designed with the CyArk website (cyark.org) as a loose template because of its high standard of organization and digital preservation of cultural heritage sites. This website project is in hopes of expanding knowledge and interest of site protection to the general public, particularly the residents and visitors of Mississippi, so that preservation and tourism efforts can be augmented. Researchers will also be able to use these models in order to see virtual interpretations of several prehistoric Mississippi archaeological sites, in addition to the possible spatial relationships that may be present in site elements, layouts, and distributions.
Use the links in the sidebar to the left to view the information, pictures, and virtual models of each site.
Prehistoric Mound Sites in Mississippi Delta Area of Interest
Information from LMS Archives Online; Phillips 1970; Jackson 2008; Jackson 2013; Brain 1989; MDAH; Ford, Phillips, and Haag 1955; Perrault et al. 1999.
Prehistoric Chronology, from Middle Archaic to Mississippian