Authenticating Anastylosis: Para Data in the Digital Reconstruction of Greyfrairs Church Leicester and the Tomb of King Richard III
Creating visualisations of historic buildings and interiors from partial evidence requires realistically implementable strategies for managing the evidence upon which they are based and for documenting the decisions taken concerning the selection and value judgements made about that evidence. This paradata is essential for scholarly audiences for whom the degree of authentication and probability of correctness are central issues in developing trusted research. Several methods of generating this paradata are already recorded in the literature but while often systematic they are also complex and largely text based and for this reason it is recognised that their use is still the exception rather than the norm. In early 2014 Archaeologists at the University of Leicester in the UK discovered the remains of King Richard III, who died in 1485. This internationally important archaeological discovery prompted Leicester City Council to commission the Digital Building Heritage Group at De Montfort University to use the newly discovered archaeological evidence and pre-existing literary and circumstantial evidence to create a highly detailed digital reconstruction for public exhibition of the now lost church and medieval precinct in which the king was buried. The international scrutiny surrounding this case required particular quality control over the paradata and the required development time for the reconstruction also required that any process used should be efficient, and practical to implement in a compressed time-frame. Experience was therefore drawn from quality control techniques in processes in the construction industry to authenticate decision-making using a particular form of drawing we call “body-maps”. These are graphic representations which specify options applicable to generic 2D and 3D representations of buildings and artefacts allow their development and change in design, allow the recording, over marking and notation of selections made, alternatives proposed, final decisions arrived at and official endorsement or “signing off” of the final visualisation. We have found this diagram based approach a time and cost efficient vehicle for generating a rich and accurate paradata record and one which can be easily stored digitally and retrieved for future examination. One of its advantages is that because they are largely graphical in format the “body-map” drawings can be read in chronological sequence and so provide a narrative with minimal use of explicitly narrative text. Factors which affect the method’s use are the need for personnel who can use simple computer based drawing packages like Sketchup and Photoshop to create and modify the base “body-maps” and a willingness amongst the participants to engage in basic hand-drawing diagramming and over-marking on paper print-outs. Interestingly we found that formal drawing ability has little if any effect upon the utility of the process with all participants from a range of backgrounds able to intuitively engage with it. Furthermore the process actively encourages thoughtful and reflective practice and the development of shared frames of reference between different disciplines. This paper explains the detail of the process we have developed, with examples of body-maps and their use, the resulting reconstructions and the methods we propose to archive and curate the paradata arising from it.
Documentation of an innovative documentation methodology developed in the course of a project comissioned by Leicester City Council to create exhibition content for their King Richard III visitor center which opened in 2015, in Leicester, UK.
Citation : Cawthorne D., Davies S. (2015 Authenticating Anastylosis: Para Data in the Digital Reconstruction of Greyfrairs Church Leicester and the Tomb of King Richard III”, In Session 3A, A Dialogue Between Archaeological Science And Computer Visualization, CAA2015 – “Keep the Revolution Going”, 43rd Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, Siena, 30th March – 3 April 2015, Annual Conference Book of Abstracts, University of Siena Department of History and Cultural Heritage, 2015, pp. 76-77, 525
Research Group : Digital Building Heritage Group
Peer Reviewed : Yes