Monday, October 31, 2005

Confusing data

Today I imported what was supposed to be an AutoCAD file of topographic data collected from the Akapana site into Sketchup v5.0. Sketchup is a dumbed-down version of AutoCAD for architects to do quick mock-ups. It’s extremely useful if you want to work in 3D with little or no prior experience or if you want to quickly prototype a design. However, after the import, I had no idea what I was looking at, because in addition to the Akapana I was familiar with, I managed to find other structures in Tiwanaku in the file that I recognized yet that I did not previously think were associated with the Akapana. Luckily, I checked in with the professors, and it turns out that the file they uploaded was the wrong one. I was looking at the entire site of Tiwanaku at once. Awaiting the pared down file.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I signed up for the Akapana modeling group because no one else would do it, and I'm starting to realize what a horrible idea it was. I despise modeling buildings. Apparently I have a partner for this project, but do not think I have ever met him. I must have been talking to Sarah about human reconstructions when he was assigned to the project.

In other news, I entirely loathe Sketchup, and spend way too much time trying to perform the simplest tasks on it. To make the task of reconstructing the pyramid more difficult, there is very little data on the Akapana. There is a corner here and a block there, but this huge temple has been looted and deconstructed to the point where it is almost entirely unrecognizable. People have thought it was a natural hill. The thing is no longer even symmetrical, and accounts of the Akapana's original size, appearance and purpose vary wildly.

The beginning

As an economics and engineering college student, I’m not really the first person you should turn to for expert knowledge about a controversial and largely unexcavated archeological site. I shouldn’t even be the second or third person. However, I suppose that’s partly what this experimental new course is aimed at proving wrong, and why it’s so interesting—can a bunch of college kids with little or no prior knowledge of archeology or 3D modeling produce an exhibit for a museum at the newly-named UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tiwanaku, Bolivia? If I was into answering rhetorical questions, I’d probably say no, but I’ll let optimism rule for now and see what happens later. Our class has split up what we believe to be the significant structures of the site, and I’ll be working with a fellow student, Mollie, on the Akapana section of Tiwanaku. All I know about the Akapana at this point is that it’s either a temple, a pyramid, or a mound of dirt, I really couldn’t tell from the brief Powerpoint introduction we were given of the site earlier in the course. This should be interesting.