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POSTPONED: Dr. David Hixson to present ‘Unreal Archaeology’ at March 24 FRF

ISSUED: 11 March 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WVThis event has been postponed.

Shepherd University’s next Faculty Research Forum will focus on how technology can be used to recreate ancient landscapes. Dr. David R. Hixson, adjunct professor of geography and anthropology, will present “Unreal Archaeology: Combining Aerial Drones, Digital Animation, and Dirt Archaeology to Recreate Ancient Landscapes” on Tuesday, March 24, from 1-2 p.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional Education and History auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Hixson will discuss how technology has advanced considerably over the past 25 years, moving from mapping archaeological sites using standard surveying methods to high-tech digital imaging. Because many of the latest techniques remain beyond the budgets of the everyday archaeologist, Hixson has focused his research on the consumer-grade equipment that can be purchased off-the-shelf to quickly map, visualize, and recreate ancient landscapes.

During the lecture, he will demonstrate the use of aerial drones to acquire high precision survey data at multiple archaeological sites, from the Ancient Maya region to the plantations of Northern Virginia. These data are then used to visualize the landscape within software originally designed for games like Unreal Tournament and Fortnite. These landscapes can not only be viewed, but “experienced” in first-person view, or even in virtual reality. The lecture will provide an instructional workflow so that attendees can begin to apply the same technology in their own research or areas of interest. A virtual reality headset will be available at the talk for attendees to experience the ancient Maya site of Chunchucmil, Yucatan.

Hixson is an adjunct professor of geography and anthropology at both Shepherd University and Hood College. He specializes in archaeological remote sensing—the use of technology to detect, visualize, and analyze archaeological objects and landscapes. With more than 25 years of professional experience, Hixson has excavated at sites all over the eastern United States, but today he focuses on the Ancient Maya of Yucatan, Mexico, and the antebellum plantations of the Shenandoah Valley. His work at Belle Grove Plantation has just been awarded an Epic Megagrant from the videogame company Epic Games to recreate the antebellum landscape of that national heritage site.

The talk being given at Shepherd is part of a larger project that will be presented at the national meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in April.

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