WFU Hackathon to explore blockchain’s potential in tracking art objects

In 2005, hundreds of earthenware pots and other pre-Columbian artifacts from ancient West Mexico became part of the collections of Wake Forest University’s Museum of Anthropology. Close-up photograph of keys on a laptop keyboardThe pieces included 162 complete ceramic vessels, ceramic figurines, greenstone beads and necklaces, an obsidian spear and arrow points, knives and grinding stones.

An effigy bowl from this Western Mexican Collection is one of three cultural objects inspiring a Blockchain challenge in the upcoming Wake Forest Hackathon March 6 and 7. Others include a Fijian oil bowl discovered by the 18th Century British explorer Captain James Cook, and antiquities from sites in Southwest Niger.

In its fourth year, the WFU Hackathon is organized and hosted by Wake Forest computer science students. Undergraduate and graduate students nationwide are invited to participate in this year’s remote event to explore ways that blockchain technology can aid in the historical tracking and restitution of cultural property. Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult – if not impossible – to change, hack or cheat the system.

What the students discover may help museums and art collectors worldwide.

Faculty and staff are invited to join in. More details are available on the Wake Forest University news site and at https://wakehacks.cs.wfu.edu/.

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