PJAS 14 Autumn-3

Colin Wilder, Sam T. McDorman, Jun Zhou, Adam King, Yuhang Lu, Karen Y.
Smith, Song Wang, and W. Matthew J. Simmons

Snowvision: The Promise of Algorithmic Methods in Southeastern Archaeological Research
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 14 (Autumn 2020), pp. 165-185

Abstract: This article presents the contexts, methods, contributions, and preliminary findings of Snowvision, a digital archaeology project developed by faculty and students at the University of South Carolina and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Snowvision uses computer vision to reconstruct southeastern Native American paddle designs from the Swift Creek period, ca. 100-850 CE. In this essay, we first present the context of the Swift Creek culture of the southeastern United States, along with broader related issues in prehistoric archaeology. Then, the relevant methods from archaeology and computer vision are introduced and discussed. We also introduce World Engraved, our public-facing digital archive of sherd designs and distributions, and explain its role in our overall project. We then explore, in some level of technical detail, the ways in which our work refines existing pattern-matching algorithms used in the field of computer vision. Finally, we discuss our accomplishments and findings to date and the possibilities for future research that Snowvision provides.

Key words: Pottery, computer vision, Native Americans, archaeology, Southeastern United States, pattern-matching, algorithmic methods

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.14/2/2020.03

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