Sometimes, you have to step back to see the big picture.That’s the lesson that archaeology students are sharing with the public through a new exhibit at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.The exhibit, “Spying on the Past: Declassified Satellite Images and Archaeology,” which remains open throughout the summer, presents case studies of how satellite images can illuminate archaeologically important landscape features that might not be visible from the ground. The examples are from sites in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Peru. They reveal evidence of cities, trackways, irrigation canals, and even traces of nomadic travels.Ruth Pimentel, a student in the Anthropology Department’s sophomore tutorial in archaeology, said she’s thrilled to be able to share the excitement she felt in learning how to use satellite photos as archaeological tools.“While I was doing the research this semester, I kept seizing my hapless roommates, showing them pictures on my computer and talking them through the method, just because I couldn’t keep to myself how cool it was,” Pimentel said. “Having gallery space in the Peabody means everyone in the class will get to explain how awesome and exciting this material is, and with much bigger pictures.”The students’ work stems from more than a decade’s effort by Jason Ur, associate professor of anthropology, who has long used satellite photos to track elusive details of ancient civilizations and interpret them to gain new understanding of old ways of life (detailed in features such as irrigation canals) and connections between communities (elucidated by long-lost roadways).“The way humans modify their landscapes often has a pattern or regularity, whether intentional or unintentional, that cannot be appreciated from the ground,” Ur said. “I find the emergent order of networks of tracks or patterns of irrigation fields to be almost hypnotic from above.”Guided by Ur, students in the sophomore tutorial in archaeology first learned the techniques of analyzing satellite photos and then applied them to several archaeologically rich areas. Pimentel worked on the Assyrian Irrigation Project, which focused on northern Iraq near the Turkish border. She examined photographs of the remains of canals built under Assyrian emperors before the empire crumbled in the seventh century B.C.“We propose that the canals were partly displays of power — the extra water allowing for elaborate royal gardens, for example — and partly large-scale efforts to support agriculture for the increasingly concentrated population,” Pimentel said. “The canals are now mostly obscured by modern farms and towns. But on the satellite images, we’re able to see faint lines on a huge scale across the landscape, evidence of the massive earthworks once there.”Pimentel said some of the features were so faint that she had to train her eyes to detect them in the photos. There were some photos, however, in which the canals were immediately evident, she said.“We get excited about those images. They’re our showstoppers,” Pimentel said.In conducting his own research, satellite photos are just a starting point for Ur. He scours the images for patterns and follows that examination by traveling to a site to inspect the features of interest from the ground. He then goes back to the photos, reinspecting them with a new understanding of the landscape. There are times when, looking at the photos, features are difficult to discern, but there are other times when it’s clear something’s there, making interpretation the challenge.Ur draws photos from various sources. He even hails Google Earth as an excellent tool for an armchair archaeologist because it can fly you to the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge without leaving the office. Most valuable, though, are older photos, such as those from the CORONA spy satellites, declassified in the 1990s and available from the U.S. Geological Survey. Because CORONA flew in the 1960s and 1970s, the photos are less expensive than images from modern satellites, but Ur said even more important is that they allow him to look back in time. Forty years ago, there was much less development in some key areas, making features visible that might be obscured now.For visitors to the gallery, Ur said he hopes they understand that archaeology is more than just digging and more than just ancient cities. And Ur and his students said they hope viewers will understand that development is endangering many landscapes.“I hope visitors come away learning something new about the ancient cultures of Peru, of course, but also that archaeological sites are fragile places in a changing landscape,” said Adam Stack, a graduate student in archaeology who took the course and studied the Chan Chan site on Peru’s north coast. “It will take more than archaeologists to protect the past.”
Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) notified students of a sexual assault that allegedly occurred outside a campus residence hall early Saturday. In an email to the student body Tuesday night, police stated that a student was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance outside a dorm in the early morning hours. A third party reported the assault to a campus administrator, the report stated. Police warned students to be vigilant regarding sexual assault. “Sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time,” the email stated. “College students are more likely to be assaulted by an acquaintance, which means the assault could be part of the campus community. Being aware of your own safety and watching out for your friends are important steps you can take to reduce the risk of sexual assault.” Information about sexual assault prevention and resources for survivors of sexual assault are available on the NDSP website, ndsp.nd.edu, and through the University’s Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention.
Media Release – Care Alliance 12 July 2017Family First Comment: The first question, released today, is ‘Why 18 years of age?’.This question highlights the inconsistency of Mr Seymour’s argument that euthanasia is ‘compassionate’. If killing is so kind, why not make it available for children as they do in Belgium and the Netherlands? In 2013 Maryan Street said ‘Application for children with terminal illness was a bridge too far in my view at this time. That might be something that may happen in the future but not now.The Care Alliance today launched a campaign highlighting ten key questions MPs need to ask about David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill.“Mr Seymour’s bill is an extreme version of a very bad idea,” said Matthew Jansen, Secretary of the Care Alliance. “All New Zealanders need to examine it critically, especially Members of Parliament who might be asked to debate it soon.”Mr Jansen said the Ten Questions would be progressively released over the next two weeks. The first question, released today, is ‘Why 18 years of age?’. “This question highlights the inconsistency of Mr Seymour’s argument that euthanasia is ‘compassionate’. If killing is so kind, why not make it available for children as they do in Belgium and the Netherlands?”He noted that in 2013 Maryan Street said ‘Application for children with terminal illness was a bridge too far in my view at this time. That might be something that may happen in the future, but not now.’“The reality is that making 18 the age of eligibility is a political calculation, rather than an ethical, legal or medical judgment,” said Mr Jansen.ENDS
The Creating Reality Hackathon will host 400 participants from March 12 to 15 who will work in teams. Image from Creating Reality Hackathon Website.The Creating Reality Hackathon at USC from March 12 to 15 will have the attendees work in interdisciplinary teams to create augmented reality and virtual reality applications. The hackathon is held in collaboration with the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the Iovine and Young Academy and USC Viterbi School of Engineering GamePipe Laboratory. During the hackathon, 400 participants selected from over 2,000 applicants will compete for cash awards and other prizes. Each team will consist of developers, designers and artists. The judges evaluate each team product based on what they deem how impactful and important. According to an UploadVR article, “this community’s core purpose is to learn and to deepen our understanding of how immersive technologies can be applied.” Although USC has hosted other hackathons in the past, this is the first year a hackathon will feature virtual reality technology. The hackathon was initially started by the Grassroots Developer Education from the Reality Virtually Hackathon at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, but was adapted for USC and the Los Angeles community. The USC GamePipe Laboratory, one of the groups sponsoring event, is led by the program’s founding director and Viterbi professor Mike Zyda. He also started the Joint Advanced Games programs which collaborates with the Iovine and Young Academy. “[Hackathons] let people take a break from school a little bit and to build something quickly that someday might appear in class,” Zyda said. Zyda emphasized how hackathons can serve as building blocks for future ideas and companies. The first day of the hackathon will host workshops; the following two days will be dedicated to building the augmented reality and virtual reality technology; and the final day will include judging the project submissions.
Omega Phi Beta had a stand for students to create a portion of a barrilete gigante, or giant kites that range from 10 to 12 feet tall, which is an indigenous practice in Guatemala to connect with ancestors during the holiday. The sorority hoped to highlight different cultural traditions besides what most people typically associate with Día de los Muertos in Mexican culture. “I’m very pleased with the turnout, and the USC students are so curious and intelligent in terms of their questions and wanting to get at the reasoning behind this, but also they’re getting into the spirit of it not just in an academic way, but also in a very, very human way,” she said. “They’re partaking [in] the food, the champurrado, they’re vibing it and they’re being open, open to differences in cultures.” With songs like “La Llorona” and “Remember Me” blaring in front of Leavey Library, students and faculty sipped on warm champurrado and indulged in pan dulce while attending the Día de los Muertos event Wednesday. “What’s happened in Latin America, specifically Mexico, the indigenous cultural traditions and religion have carried over into Catholicism … so that both cultures — the indigenous and the European Catholicism — believed in an afterlife,” she explained. “And so this is a way of honoring the dead. Now, the tradition of the skeletons comes from the use of Posada images.” Karen Howell, head of Leavey Library, said that this is the fourth annual Día de los Muertos event and that each year the event seems to grow in student engagement. Consuelo Sigüenza-Ortiz, a Spanish-language professor, explained the history of Día de los Muertos in Latin America and how Posada influenced how we know the holiday today. Howell added that as a Chinese American, she did not know anything about the cultural holiday before she started researching. Now she wishes to inform USC students and remove the stigmas associated with the holiday’s symbols. The Día de los Muertos event continues on Oct. 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. by the Leavey Library Reflection Pool. Sigüenza-Ortiz said that she thinks this event created appreciation and respect for the culture and informs students who are inclined to learn more. Monica David, a senior majoring in economics, poses for a photo at the Dia de los Muertos celebration hosted in front of Leavey Library Wednesday. The event will be held again Thursday. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) “[It] puts in perspective to other students that there are other cultures, and it’s actually amazing to find out what each culture does,” added Sergio Lopez, a member of Sigma Delta Alpha. “Even though it’s one, same event … each country does it differently and that’s kind of a spectacular thing to realize.” “Each year I’m really excited that more and more people are actually starting to recognize … It means to me that we’re becoming a more inclusive environment on campus,” Howell said. “I’m really hoping that this is a way for people to explore more about what the libraries can do to enrich their lives and your understanding, as well as know more about their fellow students.” “They think it’s scary. When they hear about skulls and altars, they just kind of think like, ‘Oh, this is kind of weird.’ And so when I learned more about I thought, ‘No, I want to bring it out to people. I don’t want them to think this is weird,’” Howell said. “When people are enlightened, they understand the richness of that — it’s not like we have to be scared about something we don’t know about.” “We definitely wanted to expand people’s idea of what Día de los Muertos is with the commercialization of Día de los Muertos with ‘Coco,’” said Karen Garcia, a 2019 alumna and member of Omega Phi Beta. “I think it’s really important to recognize that Día de los Muertos looks different in different countries. And it’s still important to highlight all the different practices and traditions that happen.” The event — hosted in partnership with USC Libraries, the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, La CASA and Latinx Greek organizations Omega Phi Beta and Sigma Delta Alpha — featured work from Mexican printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada who created calaveras, or illustrations of skulls and skeletons associated with Day of the Dead that influenced iconic artists like Diego Rivera. The original materials can be accessed through USC Libraries and are available to all USC students and faculty.