|Screen shot of laser scans of 72 Dale Street (courtesy of Harry R. Feldman Inc.)|
This week we are happy to have a talented group of guest bloggers tell us about the archaeological work being done at the Malcolm X House. U Mass Archaeological Services has been working on the house since last spring. However, this is not the dusty archaeological work that we see in movies. The work being done at the Malcolm X House is state of the art, and is going to lead to a better understanding of the house and it's history, without physically disrupting it at all.
Boston is the only American city that can claim a house where Malcolm X actually lived. Other than a small bronze plaque in its front yard, there is little to distinguish the house at 72 Dale Street from its neighbors. During his repeated and extended stays between the 1940s and 1960s at the home owned by his half-sister Ella Little-Collins, Malcolm X moved into and out of a life of petty crime; over time he converted to Islam and assumed a leadership role in the Nation of Islam. Since May 2012, U Mass Archaeological Services has worked with the house owner and with Historic Boston, Inc., to explore how portions of the house and property may be rapidly and accurately documented to preserve existing architectural information before a planned rehabilitation occurs. Our group is also interested in exploring how the documentation may be used as a public interpretive tool.
The project involves applying and integrating different documentation technologies to develop a digital model of the property that can then be explored in much the same way as a CT scan. The above-ground component involves laser scanning, a survey method that documents millions of surface points that can be used to generate a digital 3D model. Next, we plan to use various methods of geophysical survey to document below-ground resources which will be integrated with the above-ground data. The resulting site model can produce a number of products that include Computer Assisted Drawings (CAD) plans documenting the structure and surrounding property. The data can also produce a walk-through model of the house providing, in effect, a virtual house tour. While saving wear and tear on the building’s historic fabric, this will allow virtual ‘access’ to restricted parts of the house and will enable global access to this property for public outreach and education.
Steven Pendery Phd, Director
Meg Watters, Adjunct Post-Doctorate Research Associate
University of Massachusetts Archaeological Services, Amherst, MA
Stephen Wilkes, Director, 3D Services, Harry R. Feldman, Inc.