Digging in Desfina


The video starts with some upbeat, electronic music.

There is a shot of the Grecian landscape from the ground taken by a drone. The drone blades begin to spin and the drone lifts into the air flying quickly over the landscape.

The screen quickly uses a transition of white to another drone shot circling the archival dig.

With another quick flash of white the screen transitions to a wider shot of the landscape and mountains in the background. The students are far away in this shot, but you can see that they are digging on the site. The on-screen text reads: “BRANDEIS AND WESLEYAN STUDENTS TRAVEL TO GREECE”.

The shot changes to another drone shot flying past the students while digging/excavating. The on-screen text reads “ON AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG”. 

A quick white flash and new slower paced music transitions to the next drone shot. The shot moves horizontally along the dig capturing students as they excavate at the site. 

Ian Roy begins to talk about his experience.

Ian: “We were at a site half an hour south of Delphi on main land Greece called Kastrouli.”

The drone shot fades into a zooming map of the area where the students were located.

The on-screen text reads: “KASTROULI”. 

The map transitions to a rotating bird’s eye view of the site. Ian describes the site as a circle, and this shot demonstrates that. 

Ian: “It was this circular fortification on top of the hill, and we were at the nearest town settlement called Desfina, with faculty.” 

Ian appears on-screen. The on-screen text reads: IAN ROY ’05 – Director for Research Technology and Innovation.

Ian continues to speak.

Ian: “One from Wesleyan, one from Brandeis, one from MIT, and about 25 students running a field school.” 

The video cuts to a new clip of students working on the archaeological site.

The on-screen text reads: 25 STUDENTS 

Ian: “Learning how to get in the dirt and process archaeological finds.” 

The shot changes to a bird’s eye view of students continuing to excavate. 

Ian: “These are warrior graves from late Bronze Age, and we’re looking into Bronze Age collapse.”

On-screen text reads: WARRIOR GRAVES 

Cory Palmer begins to speak about his experience. On-screen text reads: CORY PALMER, MA’19 – Ancient Greek and Roman Studies.

Cory: “All these ancient civilizations, all these powerful civilizations, just sort of collapsed.” 

There is a quick white flash transitioning to a new drone shot circling the dig site. 

Cory: “The cause of that is still unknown and that’s kind of the million-dollar question is, what happened?”

Cory appears on screen as he laughs to the camera. 

A quick white flash transitions to a wide shot of the Grecian landscape. 

Ian Roy appears on-screen.

Ian: “Local families open their homes to the Brandeis students and the professors, and we actually were hosted by the local village.” 

We see close-up GoPro footage of a local having fun with this new toy.

We see and hear one of the locals pointing at the GoPro and saying “GoPro, GoPro.” 

Ian: “The fact that there is a program at Brandeis where students can actually find this physical stuff.”

The next drone shot is higher in the sky and we get a wider view of the site and the landscape. 

There is a quick white flash transition and Cory speaks on screen: “It’s a great opportunity for students to come up with original research.”

The screen fades to a wide angle view of the landscape. 

Ian speaks on-screen: “What I’m trying to do with these projects is support emerging technologies in the field.” 

A new horizontal drone shot highlights the students excavating.

Ian: “So, ways to 3D scan objects, or landscapes, in potentially one of the first human water systems, from maybe 1,500 B.C. Era.” 

On-screen there is an example of the 3D scan that Ian was able to create with this technology.

The screen fades to another moving drone shot of the site itself. A bird’s eye view of the students working is again shown on-screen.

Ian: “And this is high enough resolution that we can work with pottery from 2,000 B.C. and find fingerprints that were not foreseeable on the object before we scanned it.” 

On screen there is a moving 3D scan of a piece of pottery. The screen fades to a wide shot of students continuing to excavate. 

Cory: “You need to know where you came from, you need to know,”

Cory speaks on-screen: “where you’re going,”

There is a fast-paced drone shot close to the ground showcasing the dig.

Cory: “and the best way to do that is to have an accurate interpretation of the people that came before us.”

Cory speaks on-screen: “And that’s what archaeology is all about.” 

A quick white flash transitions to a bird’s eye view of Ian Roy and a group waving to the drone camera as it goes higher into the sky.

Ian: “There are truths that go all the way back to the beginning of human origins,”

The screen changes to a wider shot of Ian and the children waving to the drone.

Ian: “and we can learn from that today.”

The screen changes to an even wider shot of the excavation site demonstrating students working.

Ian: “It’s not just the material culture, it’s the lessons we learn from that.”

The screen fades to a shot of the landscape and mountains as the sun begins to set.


The music changes back to the up-beat electronic music that was played at the very beginning of the video.

The screen transitions after a quick flash of white to a sped-up shot of the group waving to the drone as it flies higher into the air. 

With a flash of white the screen transitions to on-screen text: Brandeis.edu

Bringing the video to a close there is a shot on screen showing the drone make a difficult landing into the grass on site.

On-screen text reads: PRODUCED BY: Tarah Llewellyn – DRONE FOOTAGE: Ian Roy ’05 

The screen fades to black and there is more text giving thanks to all involved in this archaeological dig.

The on-screen text reads:

This project was made possible thanks to: 

Director Dr. Ioannis Liritzis from University of the Aegean

Principle Investigators Andrew Koh of MIT and Dr. Kate Birney of Wesleyan University

Technology Directed by Ian Roy of Brandeis MakerLab

The town and people of Desfina, Greece

Brandeis Department of Classics

Wesleyan Department of Classics

Brandeis Library

and Brandeis MakerLab, Automation Lab, and Digital Humanities Lab 

The video fades to black as well as the music and comes to an end.