Supercomputer transforms archaeology at University of Bradford

The university’s first supercomputer is revolutionising approaches to archaeological research

Leading archaeologists at the University of Bradford are utilising a supercomputer to create accurate 3D models of endangered and destroyed ancient monuments and sites.

The high-performance computing (HPC) system, designed by HPC developer OCF, is helping to support sustainable heritage initiatives, such as the Curious Travellers project, led by the University of Bradford.

Curious Travellers is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded Fragmented Heritage project, under the Digital Transformations programme. It is run in conjunction with the University of St Andrews, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China (UNNC), University of Birmingham, and the University of Durham.

Technology is not only broadening the scale at which archaeologists work, but also is making an unprecedented volume of extremely accurate data available for multinational analysis.
– Professor Vincent Gaffney, University of Bradford

Heritage sites are reconstructed using hundreds of digitally recorded images. Reconstructed sites so far include the Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Kathmandu, and Stonehenge.

Professor Vincent Gaffney, from the University of Bradford’s School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences, said: “Computing technology is shaping archaeological practice.

“Importantly, the project is more than just the 3D content. By using geospatial and archaeological data that describes the site within its landscape, its context is included, providing a lasting legacy that contributes to local historic environment records.

“Technology is not only broadening the scale at which archaeologists work, but also is making an unprecedented volume of extremely accurate data available for multinational analysis.”

Members of the public are encouraged to submit their own images of heritage sites for the project at http://visualisingheritage.org/currentcampaigns.php