(Metaphorically) In the Trenches with 3D Tech in Tuscany

This post, by FSU Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Librarian Matthew Hunter, is a repost from the Immersive Scholarship blog at https://immersivescholarship.create.fsu.edu. For more information about the work the Immersive Scholarship team is performing, or to discuss project ideas, please visit their site. For more information about the Cosa project and other Classical archaeology projects, check out the FSU Classics Department site at https://classics.fsu.edu/

This past June, I traveled to Italy to contribute to the long-running archaeological excavations at the ancient Roman site of Cosa. Perched on a beautiful coastal promontory overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea about halfway between Rome and Florence, the ruins of the ancient colony are surrounded by the sleepy modern town of Ansedonia and provide hints at both Republican and Imperial urban planning and building techniques later deployed across the Roman world. The current, FSU-led excavations at Cosa have been focused on a bath complex located within the ancient town, and add to a program of study that has explored the site since the late 1940s. The current multi-institutional focus on the bath complex, directed by FSU Classics professor Dr. Andrea De Giorgi, is meant to illuminate a particular iteration of one of the hallmarks of a “proper” civilized Roman colony town, the bathhouse, which were hubs for social life in the Roman period. The baths at Cosa are particularly interesting as a case study in large part due to the lack of a natural water source at the site. As there were no wells, springs, lakes, rivers, or streams to provide potable water, all water used at the site would have been rainwater collected into large cisterns built around the site. Strategically doling out this rainwater for necessities such as cooking and drinking, and for leisurely comforts such as fountains and the baths, was the work of a sustainability-minded town.

A view of Cosa’s Arx, including the capitolium and basilica, with a modern installation art piece “Dal Giorno Alla Notte” by Felice Levini during the 2023 Hypermaremma art festival

The current FSU excavations at Cosa began in 2013 when Dr. De Giorgi and a team of FSU Classical Archaeology graduate students set out to add to a long-running series of excavations carried out under the behest of the American Academy at Rome. Prior excavations have outlined the general city plan, uncovered a forum and details of the village, explored the houses of the residents, investigated the religious locus of the town in detailing several temples on the “Arx (which is a Latin term for both the geographic summit of the site as well as its focal center), and investigated the long afterlife of the town’s settlement through the medieval period. The current exploration of the bath complex seeks to understand the extent of the town’s interaction with the larger Roman world as a center for maritime trade and commerce. Over the last decade, the FSU Cosa Excavations have produced a robust contribution to the understanding of Roman bath technology, Republican-era colonies, and more in various formats including edited volumes, articles, presentations, and dissertations – with the culmination of the project a slated entry into the series of major site reports under the University of Michigan Press imprint. 

Under the direction of the current FSU team, recent excavations at the bath are invested in performing not only vital archaeological excavations to better understand the built environment, but to also incorporate cutting-edge archaeological methods and modern technologies as part of their investigations. Among these are the use of drone-based aerial mapping, LIDAR topology scanning, and (most importantly to my work) photogrammetric and 3D scanned digital recreations of excavation trenches, artifacts, and site features. The production of these digital records is intended to help future researchers access the scholarly material of the excavations in a format that is most suitable and available to them, increasing the generation of knowledge about the site and of Roman history in general. By embracing these technologies and the more openly-accessible opportunities they present for sharing their research widely, the team hopes to invite new audiences into accessing their work and increase the impact of their scholarship beyond readership of the site reports and scholarly publications. 

As part of the university libraries’ partnership with the Cosa team, I have been assisting in these efforts by consulting on a digital database project and by working with the team to contribute to digitization efforts for the past several years. This has included, for the past two years, scanning artifacts with a high-resolution 3D scanner to create digital replicas for future study.  

FSU Libraries + Classics

Though I have a background in Classics, my contribution at the site is not intended to be as a subject-matter expert. There are far more competent Classicists and archaeologists on staff supervising the excavation, and a fantastic team of student archaeologists each summer contributing to the hard and sweaty work of excavation. My job, rather, is to create a digital record of select finds deemed important enough to capture for future analysis in highly accurate 3D models. This is important for the team’s broader efforts of analysis and communication, as the archaeological site itself is only open for excavation during the month of June each year. Thoroughly recording all aspects of the process along the way helps analysis during the other 11 months of the year, and the addition of accurate 3D models can provide an additional aspect of data that the standard documentation photographs may not. This results in a flurry of activity to document, photograph, identify, describe, and scan as many finds and features as quickly as possible. This past season, for example, I was able to scan 65 models in just two weeks, which will allow for further analysis throughout the year, and bring the total of objects scanned to 109. These scanned models are in addition to the documentary “photomodels” of each excavation trench generated by the team using photogrammetry.

The process of scanning first requires the discovery of materials in the field by teams of students working under the direction of a team of trench supervisors with years of experience and graduate training in Classical Archaeology. When a potential artifact is discovered, the trench supervisor documents its location in the trench and its general characteristics, then sends it to the team working in the magazzino where it is classified and further recorded (including things like measurements and weight). Once the artifact is classified by the magazzino team, they work quickly to attempt an initial identification (i.e. type of pottery, type of coin, description of general sculptural features). They will then document this information and capture identification photos. Then, if the artifact is of particular noteworthiness or uniqueness, the team will set it aside for scanning, where it makes its way to my queue.

At this point, I use the library’s Artec Space Spider 3D to begin the process of scanning the object. This scanner uses a combination of structured light technology and real-time photogrammetry processing to capture surface topology and real-color images. Structured light scanning is a process by which a regular shape (usually a grid) of uniform dimension is projected onto a surface, then captured by a camera. Powerful software then analyzes the image to determine how that grid is altered by the surface of the object. When put together with enough other photographs of the deformed grid, the software can begin to triangulate features by comparing how the grid changes across the photo series.

Interested in Photogrammetry & 3D Capture?

Join the FSU Libraries Immersive Scholarship team this fall as we present our Photogrammetry Institute. For more details, check out the event schedule and prior event topics on our event page.

In addition to the structured light method, the 3D scanner I use also employs a trio of high-resolution digital cameras set at particular angles to capture an instantly-triangulated view of any object it is pointed at. By knowing the exact angle the three camera lenses are offset, the software that reconstructs the scan data can quickly patch together the surface and color information of a model in real-time. Paired with the higher-resolution structured-light approach, scans of objects ranging from coins all the way to statues can be captured in minutes with astounding detail. 

Once each object is scanned, there are a few processing tasks I need to perform on the models to clean them up for presentation and eventual upload. The software paired with the Artec scanner automates most of this workflow, but still requires some decent processing power and time. This usually means that for every 10 minutes I spend scanning an object, I also have to spend 20 or so minutes performing hands-on cleaning and editing, with an additional 20-30 total minutes of hands-off processing time required for the computer to run through the various merging and texturing algorithms to produce the final model.

Timelapse of the scanning process from 2022

When things run smoothly, it usually takes anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour to finish the entire process of digitizing an artifact – from scanning to exporting a finished digital model. Not accounting for any errors in scanning or processing, the whole procedure is rather smooth and almost meditative. Where things get tricky are with objects on the extremes of size. One of the major limitations of the structured-light approach is the set size of the projected light-grid. While this allows for great accuracy when surface features deflect the grid, any features smaller than the grid are easily lost or left unrecorded. This is most commonly a factor on very thin objects (like coins) where the edge between two faces only deflects a small portion of the grid at any one time. This presents a problem in that the scanner can sometimes interpret this minor deflection as merely incorrect data capture – or “noise” – rather than actual surface information. And as good as the software usually is at tracking where the object benign scanned is at all times, thin edges like this are usually where the scanner begins to get confused, which often breaks the model.

 However, once the model is scanned and processed, I then gather a set of important data about the object in a spreadsheet for upload into the Cosa team’s working database. The full database captures all aspects of the excavation and is a massive undertaking to organize and update throughout the year. My small portion of the database pulls the archaeological context for each digitized find, and adds data specific to the 3D modeling process. Eventually, the finalized information from this working database will be consolidated and uploaded to the FSU institutional repository, DigiNole for preservation and presentation.

Left image shows the various aligned scanned data points as brightly-colored triangles; the right image is the finalized, processed model with color and texture information added.

But for the 3D objects I have scanned, however, the process of inclusion in DigiNole will happen much sooner. Thanks to the hard work of the Web Development team at the FSU Libraries, a new feature in DigiNole will allow for users to view and interact with 3D objects natively, much in the same way that the platform already supports PDF and audio/visual materials. This new feature will allow users the ability to engage with the 3D-scanned Cosa objects starting as early as this Fall, while research is actively ongoing. This is an exciting development for the project, as it allows for the fruits of FSU research endeavors to be held and cared for in an appropriate context within an academic environment. This is especially important, as for the past several years, the Cosa team has been uploading their 3D models of excavation trenches and objects to the public 3D repository Sketchfab. While Sketchfab allows for easy interaction with 3D models by the general public, not all of its content is scholarly (nor is all of it family-friendly, posing other problems). And though Sketchfab has done a great job supporting the work of cultural heritage institutions working to digitize and share their collections in 3D, their preservation and archiving obligations are very different than academic institutions’. We are proud to begin offering digital repository storage for 3D objects in the near future, and look forward to partnering with other researchers across campus to begin filling our repository with high-quality, high-impact 3D scholarship.

If you are interested in learning more about 3D scanning or photogrammetry techniques, be sure to check out our upcoming event series this fall, the Photogrammetry Institute, where we will focus on hands-on workshops with campus partners. Likewise, you can check out the recordings of the Spring 2023 events on our site here. For more information on services the FSU Libraries’ Immersive Scholarship team provides, feel free to explore our site at https://immersivescholarship.create.fsu.edu.

3D scanning at Cosa with resident supervisor, “Amore” the cat.

And We’re Back! … Strozier Library Basement Officially Reopens

On June 28, 2023, the Strozier Library basement is officially reopened! 

Strozier Library experienced flooding in the lower level and subbasement due to an air handler coil freezing on the night of December 25, 2022. FSU Facilities worked with contractors to extract the water from the building and Libraries’ team members worked through the night and over the next days to protect and preserve collections. Due to the efforts of these Flood Heroes, damage to collections was minimized. However, the basement was closed for renovations during the spring semester.

We are happy to announce that the basement is now open. This is in thanks to the many colleagues at the Libraries and at FSU who helped not only on the night of the flood, but also throughout the spring semester. 

The reopening was marked by a ribbon cutting and celebration of the Flood Heroes. 

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to check out the newly renovated space.

FSU Libraries names new Associate Dean of Technology and Digital Scholarship

Florida State University Libraries has named Debra Hanken Kurtz as its new associate dean of technology and digital scholarship.

Kurtz comes to Florida State from Arizona State University (ASU), where she served most recently in the role of Director of Data Governance. She succeeds Jean Phillips, who has retired after ten years of service as associate dean at FSU Libraries.

Read more: https://news.fsu.edu/news/arts-humanities/2023/04/17/fsu-libraries-names-new-associate-dean-of-technology-and-digital-scholarship/.

Visit to the FSU Florence Study Center

Leah Sherman in Florence Study Center

In January 2023, Visual & Performing Arts Librarian Leah Sherman visited the FSU Florence Study Center as part of an extended research trip in Europe. In addition to her role at FSU Libraries, Leah is a current doctoral candidate in the Florida State Department of Art History and this spring semester she is on leave to conduct archival research toward her dissertation project.

As part of her fieldwork abroad, Leah visited archives and museums in Paris, France, and Genoa, Italy, and she was able to make a stop in Florence along the way. While visiting the study center, she met with several colleagues, including Florence Librarian Kate Dowling, and toured the spaces at the palazzo where the Study Center is newly located. Leah also offered a lecture on introductory Art History research skills to students in the Florence Study Center library.

Kate Dowling and Leah Sherman in Florence Study Center

Given Florence’s history as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, the study of art history has long been a popular discipline among students studying abroad with FSU there, whether they intend to major in Art History or not. This talk was aimed at researchers for whom Art History as an area of study might be completely new, in hopes that they would go into their coursework informed about best practices in approaching research topics and materials that are unique to the history of art.

Leah visited the study center not only as the Arts Librarian from FSU, but also as a multigenerational alumnus of Florida State’s Florence study abroad program: she was a student there in spring of 2008, and her mother studied with FSU in Florence as well, earlier in the program’s history in spring 1969.

If you’re interested in studying abroad and experiencing all that FSU’s international campuses have to offer, check out FSU’s International Programs website.

This post was written by Leah Sherman, Visual and Performing Arts Librarian at FSU Libraries.

2022 Florida Book Awards Winners Announced

The Florida Book Awards, coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries, announced winners for the nation’s most comprehensive state book awards program established in 2006 to celebrate the best of Florida literature.

The 17th annual competition featured 150 eligible publications submitted across 11 categories for books published in 2022. To be eligible, authors must be full-time Florida residents — except in the Florida nonfiction, visual arts and cooking categories, where the subject matter must focus on Florida.

To check out the list of winners, visit this link.

Celebrating FSU Authors Day 2022

On March 23, 2023, FSU Libraries will partner with the Office of Faculty Development and Advancement to celebrate the recent book and CD publications of FSU faculty and staff with FSU Authors Day. This annual event, showcased publications from across the disciplines, including scholarly monographs, textbooks, handbooks, edited volumes, music CDs, poetry, and novels published between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. Check out this year’s authors and their works below!

Black Sisterhoods: Paradigms and Praxis edited by Tamara Bertrand Jones

Black Sisterhoods: Paradigms and Praxis edited by Dr. Sophia Rahming

Foundations of Ecology II: Classic Papers with Commentaries edited by Thomas E. Miller & Joseph Travis

The Oxford Handbook of Digital Media Sociology edited by Deana A. Rohlinger

Shakespeare & the First Hamlet edited by Terri Bourus (Theresa A. Mategrano)

Antioch: A History by Andrea U. De Giorgi

Collaborative Futures in Qualitative Inquiry: Research in a Pandemic edited by Norman K. Denzin and Michael D. Giardina

Combat Social Work: Applying the Lessons of War to the Realities of Human Services edited by Charles R. Figley, Jeffrey S. Yarvis, and Bruce A. Thyer

Student Engagement in the Language Classroom edited by Phil Hiver, Ali H. Al-Hoorie, and Sarah Mercer

Global Revolutionary Aesthetics and Politics After Paris ’68 edited by Christian P. Weber, Barry J. Faulk, William J. Cloonan, and Martin Munro

Pindar in Sicily edited by Virginia M. Lewis

Geriatrics Review Syllabus, Eleventh Edition edited by Jonathan S. Appelbaum

Electrical Circuits, Fifth Edition by Linda S. DeBrunner and Victor DeBrunner

The Essential James Buchanan by Randall G. Holcombe

Economics of Asia by Onsurang Pipatchaipoom (Norrbin)

Homelessness and the Built Environment: Designing for Unhoused Persons by Jill Pable, Yelena McLane, and Lauren Trujillo

Scissors and Tears by Carrie Ann Baade

NEW Media Suite at Dirac: A Creation Space for All

Tired of recording videos for class with your grainy laptop camera? Wish you had a better setup for your podcast? Good news! A new space is coming to Florida State University (FSU) that will allow you to work on videos, podcasts, and more. This space, called The Media Suite at Dirac, will have everything you need to record and edit audio and video, including a green screen and an editing computer with two large 4k monitors. The suite is located on the third floor of Dirac and is currently available for booking

Why Create a Media Suite?

FSU Libraries is proud to introduce The Media Suite at Dirac because it satisfies a need that all members of the FSU community share: creating outstanding digital media.

The world is becoming more digital by the day, which we saw clearly at the start of the pandemic. Suddenly, everything from classes to court cases were online, and people had to quickly learn how to communicate effectively through digital media. This shift is not going away any time soon. More and more, job interviews, team meetings, conferences, and other important events are moving online. It’s even predicted that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, which is a 417% increase from the 7 million remote workers there were pre-pandemic (Flynn, 2022). Given this trend, it’s vital that we all learn how to navigate the digital landscape effectively.

The Media Suite can help FSU students, staff, and faculty practice and perfect their digital communication skills by providing them with the space and tools necessary to create any digital media projects they can imagine.

What Can I Use It For?

The Media Suite can be used for a variety of personal and professional projects. Want to make a short film for your YouTube channel? The suite has lighting, microphones, and a green screen that will bring your vision to life. When you finish filming, you can edit on two 4k monitors powered by a Mac Studio computer. You can record voice-over and edit audio using the headphones, microphones, and mixing board in the suite, which is equipped with audio absorption panels to make your audio crisp and clear. 

Not interested in making your directorial debut? No worries. There is much more you can do in the suite. For instance, you might record yourself giving a presentation or invite friends to start a podcast. The suite is equipped with everything you need to make incredible media projects. But, if you find yourself lacking something, you can check out other materials from the library, including a DSLR camera. Use the equipment search page on the library website to check which materials are available.

How Can I Get In On This?

Eager to get started on your projects? Luckily, utilizing the suite is easy. Anyone at FSU is welcome to use it completely free of charge. All you have to do is reserve the space through the Library Room Reservation System. When it’s your time to use the suite, head to the front desk at Dirac Science Library and request the key from a staff member. 

For more information on The Media Suite at Dirac, visit the suite’s page on the GEOSET website. If you have any questions, reach out to a staff member at the circulation desk or contact GEOSET Studio


Flynn, J. (2022, October 16). 25 trending remote work statistics [2023]: Facts, trends, and projections. Zippia. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://www.zippia.com/advice/remote-work-statistics/

FSU Libraries names new Associate Dean of Research and Learning Services

Florida State University Libraries has named Neelam Bharti as its new Associate Dean of Research and Learning Services. She will start Feb. 3, 2023.

Bharti comes to Florida State from Carnegie Mellon University, where she served as the Associate Dean for Liaison Services and the Senior Librarian for Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Science and Engineering since 2018.

Read more: https://news.fsu.edu/news/students-campus-life/2023/01/04/fsu-libraries-names-new-associate-dean-of-research-and-learning-services/.

FSU Libraries Welcomes International Scholars

FSU Libraries Welcome International Scholars Video (YouTube)

November is International Education Month at FSU!

Florida State University hosts over 2,000 international students from more than 130 countries. FSU Libraries seeks to serve all of the university’s international students and faculty and make them feel welcome. FSU Libraries’ International Scholar Special Interest Group strives to provide customized services and assistance for international students. We understand their unique challenges in and contributions to succeed in American classrooms and are eager to support them in their scholarly and instructional goals.

The welcome video above highlights FSU Libraries’ services and features interviews from international students expressing how they have used the Libraries at Florida State University. Here are some of their thoughts:

“You have access to any and every material you could possibly imagine or think of for your research”

Pietro Pesce (Graduate Instructor)

” It has such a diverse community in here, and it will welcome you like your family.”

Gizem Solmaz (Graduate Assistant)

This welcome video would not have been possible without the Center for Global Engagement (CGE), who recruited the international scholars featured in the video, as well as GEOSET, which produced it. We would also like to thank the following international scholars for appearing in the video: Doreen Addo-Yobo, Amy Ni, Pietro Pesce, Thais Pedrete, Gizem Solmaz, Masahiro Fukuda, Amber Noor Mustafa, Fatma Dossa, and Samy Simon. This video is hosted by the FSU Libraries’ International Scholar Special Interest Group.

Further Resources

International students interested in research are encouraged to visit Academic Research: Guide for International Students.

Events on campus and beyond for International Education Month can be found at FSU GLOBE.

Parties interested in international scholarship can reach out to the International Scholars Special Interest Group Co-Chairs, Kyung Kim kkim4@fsu.edu or Nick Ruhs nruhs@fsu.edu.

This post was written by Lisa Play, Library Instruction Specialist at FSU Libraries.

When Social Movements Collide: Open Access for Climate Justice

You’ve heard of climate change, but how familiar are you with the term climate justice? It’s the topic of the week since it’s the theme of International Open Access Week 2022, an occasion for challenging each other to raise awareness and take action on climate justice through the open and interdisciplinary sharing of data and resources. 

With hurricanes, heat waves, and forest fires appearing more regularly in our news cycle, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the discussion of our changing climate is becoming a bigger part of our lives. As we better understand the enormous threat that climate change poses to our planet, we more desperately than ever need to also have a grasp on climate justice–the aspiration to have all people, regardless of personal or community characteristics, treated fairly when it comes to protection, risks, policies, and decision-making around the impacts of climate change. In other words, when it comes to our environment and the changes happening globally, we must strive to consider everyone, understand how they’ll be impacted differently, and make decisions fairly.

While the term may be new to some, in reality calls for climate justice have been ongoing for decades. In fact, climate justice was born out of the environmental justice movement and is related to other calls to treat people more equitably such as movements for racial or social justice. Why is this so important? We know from past catastrophes that people’s level of vulnerability can vary widely based on their personal circumstances or their community’s demographics. This is one aspect of climate change where data and Open Access become very important; we need the open sharing of knowledge in order to address this important social and environmental issue and ensure justice for all. But, who has access?  

Free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research on climate change and how various demographics and geographies are impacted would be a powerful tool to aid and equip the communities most at risk. Removing barriers to accessing climate research would also enable faster communication and better engagement of both the general public and policymakers on related societal issues. Instead of data being individually owned and only available to those who can afford to access it, the general public would have the right to use scientific research results as needed. The best examples of this have been projects attempting to map overburdened, at-risk communities by incorporating a wide range of data, going beyond looking at risk from a one dimensional geographical perspective. 

For example, check out the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. Start by putting in the zip code of your hometown, and use it to have a look at the environmental and economic conditions of various communities. Then try exploring the area around FSU to familiarize yourself with the communities nearby and see how their issues compare to those in your hometown. 

Such tools are a great visual way to represent the combination of so much data. Use them as inspiration for starting conversations about climate change and/or justice. Climate Justice demands cross disciplinary collaboration, so campus forums like the Open Scholars Project could also serve as incubators for the climate action needed in our region and beyond. Through open information exchange and collaboration, we can create resources for understanding the needs of communities as well as non-human environments by evaluating their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Join together with your neighbors, campus groups, or local organizations to consider how best to take action to improve the resilience of communities where you live, study, work, or play. Whether that means volunteering, marching, donating, or joining, we need everyone’s contribution to make our communities more just and resilient in the face of climate change.

For more information about how the FSU Libraries supports open access, please visit our Research and Publishing web page here.

Author Bio: Mila S. Turner is the Social Science Data & Research Librarian at FSU Libraries and a broadly trained environmental sociologist. Her research spans diverse areas including how social inequalities intersect with environmental justice, racial equity, and natural disasters. Her thought leadership has been featured in The Hill, World War Zero, Quad Magazine, and more.