A high-tech tool used by detectives in crime scene investigations (CSI) also saves a lot of work for archaeologists.
On the last day of a dig last month at an Etzanoa excavation site in Arkansas City, Wichita State University anthropologist Don Blakeslee invited a reporter to see what the latest scanning technology can do.
Blakeslee also invited David Klamm, who directs the WSU forensic science program, to the dig site. He was accompanied by Ryan Rezzelle, a former CSI investigator who now works for Leica Geosystems.
Rezzelle showed the latest Leica product, an RTC360 scanner that works with a handheld computer device, or tablet. The RTC360 was being beta tested that day. It had not yet reached the general market for use in law enforcement or archaeology.
It can scan a large area, 360 degrees, in just a few minutes. It also transmits the high, dynamic-range photos within minutes to the hand-held computer device. It provides an accurate map view of the scene.
Rezzelle said he spent 16 years as a crime enforcement officer for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas City, Mo., police. He is a former colleague of Klamm’s.
“Forensic archaeology aligns with public safety work,” he said. “Tools for this work are perfect for archaeological work.”
Klamm said it is great to share the latest CSI technology with the seven student archaeologist who were working under Blakeslee throughout the month of June.
He said that, compared to using older investigative methods, the new tool saves archaeologists — or crime investigators — much time in the lab. “I would have to go back and spend at least half a day in what he can do at the scene with this device,” Klamm said.
Klamm added that Blakeslee “doesn’t just do traditional archaeology but invites any new technology that might be useful,” Klamm said.
“Just eight minutes of scanning provides us a three-dimensional model of everything we do here,” Blakeslee said.
The Etzanoans were ancestors of today’s Wichita Nation, archaeologists say. The “great settlement,” as Spanish conquistadors who visited Etzanoa in 1601 described it, existed along the banks of the lower Walnut River near its confluence with the Arkansas River.