As promised, I wanted to write a little bit about the application of Google Sketch Up to archaeological research, and a little bit about how I am planning on using it. Over the last couple days, I have been playing around with Sketch Up, to see what was possible. SketchUp is free 3D drawing software developed by Google, and is available for Mac and Windows. Archaeologically, this software can be very helpful when recreating what a structure might look like based on the evidence gathered through historical and archaeological research. The image I have included here is the double-pen slave quarter that is the focus of my dissertation research. By using the archaeological sketches of the central chimney stack, I was able to recreate the hearth to scale. Additionally, I will be able to add the windows, doors, joists, and the root cellar. More importantly, I can recreat aspects of the structure that did not exist at the time that the quarter was relocated in 1993, such as the partition dividing the two rooms. My next goal is to complete a similar sketch for the single pen quarter. I will be able to eventually bring in the elevations of the landscape, the river, and the ravine into the sketch, to give a full representation of the entire landscape.
Additionally, one could recreate the actual excavation space by drawing in the walls and floors of excavation pits. Since SketchUp works in multiple dimensions, sub-floor excavation pits could be drawn in. From a presentation standpoint, one could show how the archaeology led to the recreation of the structure, by showing both the excavation units and the recreated structure on top of them.
Analytically, I will be able to examine these buildings in their actual landscape at a variety of time periods in three dimensional space – a space that they now do not occupy. Additionally, such recreation is very helpful for the public display of the research. Since HSMC has chosen to recreate the 17th century landscape instead of the 19th century landscape, the use of programs such as Sketch Up will allow a digital recreation of the space to exist. Doing so allows visitors to understand the way in which the space of St. Mary’s City has changed over time, which is precisely the goal of archaeology in the first place: to understand how human behavio develops and changes over time through their material culture.