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Robotics reshape archaeological discovery

Ryerson University History professor Jean Li

History professor Jean Li mixes traditional methods with current technologies – like robotics – in her excavation of an ancient urban settlement at el-Hibeh, external link, Egypt. Li’s research is at the cutting edge of an emerging discipline of digital archaeology.

Li works with a team from Ryerson’s Masters in Digital Media to program and compile vital data from el-Hibeh’s burial sites and temples. Extensive looting of the site resulted in potentially dangerous and unstable environments. In order to assess the damage, remote operated robots are being created to explore the archaeological site. The information retrieved by the team’s custom-built and modified robots will be used to create 3D reconstructions of the structures. Li and her colleagues will map out a new future for archaeological research which provides insight into mortuary practices and how ancient peoples perceived and preserved their personal identities.

At Ryerson University, time-tested methods in the social sciences and humanities are combined with innovative techniques to advance archaeological research and our understanding of the past.