3D Models for Archaeology

3D models – archaeological excavation, sculpture, castle ruins

Digital modeling and photogrammetric methods represent a modern way of preparing archaeological documentation for contemporary purposes. We provide 3D models not only with accurate dimensions and geometric ratios, but also with the surface texture. Therefore, it is possible to use the models for illustrative presentation of results – visualizations, virtual tours, aerial animations, etc. Laser scanning or aerial and terrestrial photogrammetry are the most common methods for object surveying. It is important to choose an optimal method depending on size of archaeological locality and required accuracy level.

Laser Scanning of Archaeological Excavations

Generation of digital 3D model of rare archaeological finds might be essential for their later reconstruction, replication using 3D printer or virtual tour, for example on a website. After the object is scanned, it is possible to work with its dimensions, shape or photorealistic texture. Therefore, the original is not excessively exposed to risk of physical damage, even during laser scanning that is fully contact-free. The subject of interest dimensions may be from small to miniature – guaranteed scanning accuracy if using triangular laser scanner is 0.5 mm.

3D Models of Buildings and Digital Models of Landscape

Large areas can be surveyed by laser scanning and a digital building model may be created based on the acquired data. If it is safe to enter the building, surveying its interiors is a matter of course. Another possibility how to use 3D models are digital surface model (DSM) and digital terrain model (DTM) described on page Digital Terrain / Surface Models (DTM / DSM) in more detail.

Digital landscape models will apply especially in the documentation of ground works. Thanks to the speed of laser scanning and photogrammetric recording, it is possible to perform detailed survey several times in sequence. Therefore, it is also possible to use the survey for systematic archaeological research – the 3D model will be created for every excavation step. If an analysis of the area historical development is required, the data can be exported for processing in GIS applications.

Survey Options

It is possible to use terrestrial scanning device for laser scanning of landscape. It is very quick and accurate method of spatial data acquisition. The survey is usually carried out in standard resolution of 5 × 5 mm. Laser scanner with submillimeter accuracy is appropriate for very detailed survey.

To survey extensive areas, it is more convenient to use aerial photogrammetric device. Level of detail of the resulting 3D model depends primarily on altitude and resolution of images. The survey of extensive archaeological areas can be done by conventional planes, UAVs are used for smaller areas or objects – the speed of these devices is lower than the speed of common aircraft and they can hover in place in low altitude. UAVs can move in interiors as well.