Eye in the Sky (VIDEO)

Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World doctoral candidate Lucas Stephens uses an advanced aerial photography system to map an ancient city.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By Blake Cole

When Lucas Stephens needed assistance in surveying the Gordion archeological site in central Turkey, he turned to a revolutionary technological ally: the Phantom 2 Vision + Quadcopter. This aerial photography system glides at 100 meters, allowing Stephens, an Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World doctoral candidate, a unique means of mapping out the ancient capital city of the fabled King Midas—considered one of the most important dig sites in the world.

“I'm looking at how people moved around in the past, what routes they took, and how these relate to monuments and other sites in the landscape,” says Stephens. “I've been using the copter to capture imagery of landscape features such as quarries, ancient road surfaces, burial mounds, occupation mounds, and rock-cut tombs which can be turned into geo-referenced 3D models with photogrammetry software. The goal is to produce interactive maps and more videos highlighting specific routes and the ancient landscape features along them.”

Stephens will be discussing his work at the Gordion site as part of this year’s Digital Humanities Forum—a program within the larger Penn Humanities Forum that addresses the intersection of new technology and humanistic research and teaching. Stephens’ on-site mentor in Turkey, C. Brian Rose, James B. Pritchard Professor of Archaeology and Professor of Classical Studies, is also a co-investigator on the project.

Learn more about the Gordion archeological project, which the University of Pennsylvania has been involved with since 1950, here.