Several years ago I wrote about the interesting work Professor Jon Frey of Michigan State University was doing with collaborators at Isthmia to digitize the excavation notebooks as well as the associated finds and context data. Over the last couple of weeks, MSU has spotlighted Frey’s recent work at the site including his discovery of a gymnasium at the site (now published in Hesperia, with Timothy Gregory).
The article, “Digital Dig: A New Discovery from Ancient Greece,” also includes a video of a drone survey at Isthmia carried out in the fall with James Herbst, Timothy Gregory, and others. This is a great example of innovative technology and digital tools shedding light on old data sets.
Here’s a taste of the cover piece:
Through the careful study of excavation records dating back some 40 years, Michigan State University’s Jon Frey has discovered an ancient gymnasium at the archaeological site of Isthmia, Greece. Frey and his team are performing a “digital dig” of sorts. Rather than using shovels and tools to excavate the site, the researchers are studying a backlog of evidence housed in remote storage.
“The neat part is there are many moments when we discover things that the original excavators missed,” says Frey, assistant professor of classical studies in the College of Arts and Letters. “So it’s kind of like our research has shifted from digging to detective work. We’re essentially re-excavating the archives.”
You can find additional videos about the work at Jon’s website, and The State News at MSU also did a separate writeup.
I embed one of the videos below.