Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic

The VZAP frontpage
I read about VZAP, Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic on Anne Jensen's fantastic arctic archaeology blog, Out of Ice and Time, last week.  Anne was in France attending a zooarchaeology conference and mentioned a paper by Matt Betts of the Canadian Museum of Civilization that dealt with this useful new online tool.  In addition to being a really nice guy, Matt is one of the Project PIs, along with Herbert Maschner and Corey Schou.  VZAP is an online collection of animal bones from the Arctic.

VZAP: The Mammal Index
The resource is continuing to grow, but already contains 2D and 3D images of the bones of several dozen bird, fish, and mammal species found in the Arctic.  The 2D photos show the various elements from different angles and the goal of the project is to create a resource that researchers can access and use from anywhere in the world to assist in the identification of faunal elements from archaeological sites.

VZAP: Elements from the Common Murre
To initially view the site you need to download and install Silverlight to run the Dynamic Image Engine.  Your browser should walk you through the process.  Basically, Silverlight is just a piece of software that helps you navigate through the thousands of high resolution images that make up the collection.

VZAP: 3D Polar Bear skull model
I'm not a hardcore faunal guy, and I don't have any bone collections at the moment that I can use to test the function of VZAP as a comparative collection.  However, I couldn't resist playing around with the 3D models.  The models are .pdfs that can be viewed and manipulated in Adobe Reader.  They are available in 3 different sizes with different surface textures, including high resolution full colour texture mapped images.  These models can be rotated, flipped, measured, mapped in different perspectives, lit by a variety of virtual light sources and viewed as everything from photo realistic images to wireframes and illustrations.

Left; VZAP Arctic Fox skull model, Right; photo of an Arctic fox skull from Baffin Island

As a tourist in the world of faunal analysis, VZAP is one of the most fun online tools I've ever played around with and I'm sure one of the most useful as well.  I know a lot of students, researchers, and artists who will be bookmarking this page - I know I did.

Photo Credits: Screen captures from VZAP: Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic

1 comment:

  1. That is so very, very cool. I've been thinking about hauling out the ol' honours thesis to revise and update and was wondering where I could find some more canid bones to draw from. I'll also add it to my much-neglected Osteosophy blog.


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