A digital approach to micro-stratigraphy: the case of Mazotos Shipwreck
AuthorKatsouri, Irene M.
PublisherΠανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου, Φιλοσοφική Σχολή / University of Cyprus, Faculty of Letters
Place of publicationCyprus
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Understanding and reconstructing the wreck site formation processes (WSFP) and events that have transformed a ship into an archaeological site is an established area of research in shipwreck archaeology and an essential prerequisite to the interpretation of any shipwreck. However, the scarcity of coherent and undisturbed ancient shipwreck sites, but also the only recent advancements of underwater mapping techniques have prevented archaeologists from comprehensively examining and reconstructing such complex procedures (i.e. WSFP) in ancient shipwrecks. The process of identifying and describing the WSFP is achieved through the documentation, study and analysis of all the surviving material and their associations. With this in mind, even the isolated and fragmentary finds within the broader site can contribute in explaining the spatial disposition and relational aspects that characterize the site assemblage. The potential information that may be derived from the spatial analysis of such micro-scale evidence (i.e. small finds and pottery fragments) in shipwreck sites, however, has yet to be fully explored. This thesis explores the use of 3D modelling and visualization for intra-site stratigraphic analysis, using as its case study the Mazotos shipwreck site, a coherent shipwreck site, dated to the 4th century BC and located southwest of Larnaca, Cyprus. The high level of the site’s preservation, classifies it among the rare cases of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean where the internal stratigraphy and the various phases of the site’s formation processes can be studied in detail. A workflow for mapping micro-stratigraphic evidence in a 3D environment is proposed and applied, aiming to evaluate the potential of plotting pottery fragments in a 3D environment and by extension the use of 3D applications, in the stratigraphic analysis of shipwreck sites and the study of their formation processes. Digital photogrammetry and 3D computer graphics have become indispensible tools in shipwreck archaeological research, providing and permitting new ways of acquiring, analyzing and interpreting the evidence of the past. The implementation of 3D digital mapping and visualization enables the spatial examination of elements such as micro-stratigraphy, which can demonstrably contribute significantly to the identification, understanding and reconstruction of both the depositional and site formation processes, aiding in attaining a more complete interpretation of the archaeological record.