Remember that scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when Mike (the kid who’s obsessed with chocolate and TV) sticks his hand into a TV and pulls out a chocolate bar?
Well, get set, because history buffs will soon be able to get their hands on the very archaeology they see being dug up on the screen in front of them.
For the very first time, we’re going to 3D print artefacts as they come of the ground. “That’s really cool!”, we can hear you shout, “but WHY?”
So far, we’ve found all sorts of bizarre and wonderful remnants of medieval life. Earspoons? Yup. Stamps from the pope. Of course. Fake money? That too. A bone knife that exactly matches the cutlery on the Mary Rose? Hell yeah we did. The remains of a mythical hell hound? Well, almost.
Part of the excitement of archaeology is that real, tangible sense of being able to see, touch and even hold the past in our hands. What’s really special is the chance to explore, join in and experience the act of discovery yourself.
The problem is, those chances are rare and even today, most archaeological discoveries are still recorded on paper. “You cannot be serious?” we hear you screech. “In this day and age when everyone on that dig probably has a phone with 10,000 times the processing power of the computer that landed the Apollo, that’s insanity!”
And we agree. For projects that don’t have the resources to later make everything available online (and that’s most of them), those discoveries are almost immediately reburied in some basement archive where they remain unseen and inaccessible to the public. Even worse, the results get hidden behind the paywall of some academic journal, or even worse than that, never published at all.
With the help of our crowdfunders, we’ve been developing an app that will enable people who are curious about the past to contribute to groudbreaking archaeological research by joining a dig. Even more importantly, it will enable everyone on that dig to record and publish every discovery they make into an open access online database in 3D straight from the trench.
So instead of artefacts being dug up only to be reburied in archives, this app will make them available to everyone from the moment they’re discovered, and that includes YOU. Sure, there’ll still be expert interpretation, nice summaries and stories in the news, but all the data behind those stories will be available for everyone to explore. To say thanks, we’ll send supporters a 3D printed artefact in their own, personalised finds bag.
Ultimately, we hope want all publicly-funded excavations to use an app like this, so that everyone can get their hands on the archaeological data that is rightfully theirs. No more basements. No more paywalls.
If you think that sounds like a worthy cause, sign up and order your own exclusive 3D printed artefact and help make our dream of open access archaeology a reality.
DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Become a DigVentures Subscriber and be part of great archaeology - all year round!Subscribe