New Publication in Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

While pursuing a study of 3D geometric morphometrics for ceramic burial vessels that often articulate with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) from the ancestral Caddo region, there have been no shortage of potentially meaningful observations, one of which–rotational asymmetry in coil-built vessels–is discussed in this publication. Using Geomagic Design X (reverse-engineering software) and Geomagic Control X (computer aided inspection software), metrics associated with rotational asymmetry were generated then analyzed.

Vessels can be sectioned, where the deviations for a specific spline can be extracted for a more in-depth analysis.

Results indicate variable asymmetry among the different vessel shapes (i.e., bottles, jars, etc.), which may augment and strengthen studies and discussions of vessel form. Future directions include the incorporation of directional and–possibly–fluctuating asymmetry measures for the widest vessel profiles. Preliminary results point toward substantive analytical gains that can be used to augment more traditional ceramic analyses as well as geometric morphometric studies of ceramic vessel shape.

Results of the asymmetry analysis.

In addition to the analysis of rotational asymmetry, there is a brief discussion for analyses of (directional and fluctuating) asymmetry using geometric morphometrics. While the bulk of that discussion remains the topic of another paper, the citation network for asymmetry studies that use geometric morphometrics was included in this paper, and can be accessed by clicking on the image or the link below.

Directed bipartite citation network for studies of asymmetry using geometric morphometrics. Access the network here.

Link to the publication here, and view the 3D models of the Caddo vessels from the Washington Square Mound site here.  Links to the digital repository where you can download these data are included in the publication.

Many thanks to the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma for the requisite permissions needed to scan the vessels, and to the Anthropology and Archaeology Laboratory for access. 


Written by zselden

Selden (PhD, Texas A&M University, 2013) is a US Marine Corps veteran, cyclist, kayaker, backpacker, hiker, climber, fisherman and general all-around outdoor enthusiast. His research is focused at the confluence of archaeological methods and digital technology, and he is particularly interested in the application of 3D technologies to archaeological problems, geometric morphometrics, network analyses, predictive modeling, archaeological theory, and archaeological science.