The world's most advanced conference to discuss the use of cutting edge computer technology to model and interpret past societies is due to attract hundreds of archaeologists internationally to The University of Western Australia next month.
Titled Across Space and Time, this year's 41st annual Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) conference will be the first held in the Southern Hemisphere. The conference has been held annually since 1973 (the first time outside the UK was in 1992).
Assistant Professor Tom Whitley, who coordinates UWA's Masters of Professional Archaeology program, said modern computers have revolutionised archaeology and require today's leading archaeologists to have a working knowledge of advanced computing.
Technologies such as 3D imaging, agent-based systems, LiDAR, photogrammetry, laser-scanning, GIS, and modelled immersive environments (such as video gaming engines and similar software) have introduced new quantitative and interpretive approaches to archaeology.
This has profound implications for how archaeology is done across the world and right here in Australia. This year there is unprecedented participation by Australian scholars, and the conference is being organised by a consortium of national universities and CAA Australia.
Topics such as using network and predictive modelling applications, and satellite imagery analysis, to identify, understand, and preserve archaeological sites form some of the seminar themes. Predictive modelling, for example, is used to find out if planned new works - such as mines, roads or housing - are likely to interfere with potential heritage sites.
Archaeologists are also using historic photographs and 3D imaging to recreate and study heritage sites that have been destroyed - such as the giant 6th Century Afghan stone Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
This year's presence in Australia has put the focus on our amazing abundance of rock art sites, and how advanced technologies can play a role in understanding and preserving them. UWA's Centre for Rock Art Research and Management plays a key role in bringing these ideas to the world stage.
Next month's international CAA conference will be held at the University Club of Western Australia from March 25-28 and is supported by the Perth Convention Bureau and Tourism Western Australia.
Early bird registrations close Thursday (Feb 7).