Golden, Colorado, March 18, 2021 – A Canadian archaeologist is using advanced mapping and visualization technologies to bring one of the earliest European settlements in North America back to life. Dr. Jonathan Fowler has combined a centuries-old map with a modern 3D terrain model to depict Fort Anne and its surroundings in stunning detail – just like the site of Nova Scotia in 1706.
“Airborne LiDAR has become a powerful tool for archaeologists to tell the stories of our heritage while providing us with historical information to study and interpret,” said Fowler, associate professor of archeology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. .
Fowler created the 3D representation of Fort Anne using the Surfer surface mapping package from Golden Software of Golden, Colorado. For over 35 years, Surfer has been used by over 100,000 scientists and engineers to interpret complex data for oil and gas exploration, environmental consulting, mining, engineering, and geospatial projects.
“Dr. Fowler’s research demonstrates the value of visualizing and modeling multiple diverse datasets to gain deeper scientific insights,” said Golden Software CEO Blakelee Mills.
Fort Anne is remarkably well preserved considering its age and violent history. In 1605, French explorers established a fur trading post on the Annapolis River in an area they named Acadia, which is now part of present-day Nova Scotia. France began building a star-shaped fort there “à la Vauban” in 1702. The area has seen many attacks and sieges from different enemies – including pirates – and has changed hands several times. Fort Anne fell to the British in 1710 and then played an important role in the Deportation of the Acadians.
To create the 3D map of Fort Anne, Fowler loaded airborne LiDAR data into the Surfer package to generate a “bare earth” terrain model depicting the topography of the area as it exists today, minus the vegetation and buildings. Fowler slightly exaggerated the LiDAR elevation values in Surfer to accentuate the relief.
Then the archaeologist obtained a digitized version of a 1706 military map from the National Archives of France showing the fort and the nearby town. He overlaid the digital map onto the terrain model in Surfer to create a realistic 3D view of Fort Anne shortly after it was built. Fowler repeated the process using a 1753 map from the Library of Congress to depict the site under British rule.
“The 3D map reveals the original layout of the buildings inside the ramparts and outside the walls of the small town,” Fowler said. “It is interesting to note that most of the buildings in the fort no longer exist, but some structures still exist today in [the town of] Annapolis Royal and are among the oldest buildings in Canada.
Detailed interpretation of the 3D model has just begun and Fowler believes previously unknown facts about Fort Anne and the surrounding landscape may soon be revealed. For example, the terrain data marks several mounds of earth outside the ramparts which could be artificial siege works and encampments built by the attacking forces. There are also many 17and and 18and century Acadian villages trapped underground in the area. As he has done in the past, Fowler could use the LiDAR-based 3D surface map as a guide to return with ground-penetrating radar and investigate what remains hidden beneath the ground in and around this historic landscape.
For more information on Dr. Fowler’s research at Fort Anne, read his posts on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Canada preserved Fort Anne as its first National Historic Site in 1921. The full history of the fort published by Parks Canada can be viewed here.
About Golden Software
Founded in 1983, Golden Software is a leading developer of affordable scientific graphics software. Its customer base includes more than 100,000 users involved in environmental consulting, oil and gas exploration and extraction, mining exploration and extraction, engineering, applied science, business, education and government in nearly 190 countries and territories. Golden Software offers four products: Surfer® for meshing, contouring and 3D surface mapping; Grapher™ for 2D and 3D graphs; Voxler® for 3D data visualization; and Strater® for well logging, plotting boreholes and cross-sections. For more information, visit www.GoldenSoftware.com or call 1-303-279-1021.