3D Modeling a Historic Type Collection- A SEAC Teaser


I hope everyone is as excited about SEAC 2015 as I am!  In anticipation for all of the papers, posters, panels, and presentations this week, I wanted to offer a preview of some of the work students and staff at the Research Labs of Archaeology (UNC-CH) have been doing lately.

Gearing up for a future virtual museum, Steve Davis and students at UNC have been experimenting with 3D modeling using a photogrammetry technique called structure-from-motion. Using AgiSoft’s Photoscan software, they are able to stitch together multiple overlapping digital photographs of either artifacts or archaeological exavations, to create highly accurate, scaled 3D models.

One of the first 3D projects the RLA is undertaking is to digitize the type specimens from the foundational work of North Carolina archaeology: “The Formative Cultures of the Carolina Piedmont” by Joffre Coe (1964). This publication was the first major culture historical synthesis of archaeology in the Carolinas.  Relying on the stratigraphic excavations from the well-known Hardaway and Doershuk sites, Coe literally wrote the book defining the Late Paleoindian to Woodland Periods.


Now the projectile point type specimens are viewable in 3D!!! (This is still an ongoing project and additional models are being added as they are completed). Check out the models here: http://sketchfab.com/rla-archaeology


Hardaway Side-Notched (690a293)
by RLA Archaeology
on Sketchfab


If you are interested learning more about this stuff, Steve’s paper is in the Friday afternoon session, “Archaeological Methods, Museums, and Specialized Studies”.

Hope to see everyone soon and travel safe!

4 comments on “3D Modeling a Historic Type Collection- A SEAC Teaser

  1. Ken Sassaman says:

    That is truly awesome David! Great vision forward, Steve and RLA. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Shane says:

    My reaction, in gif form.

  3. dover1952 says:

    RLA and UNC-Chapel Hill are doing a wonderful thing here!!! I hope it will also be viewed as an act of institutional penance for Joffre L. Coe’s famous stinginess in letting other American archaeologists and student archaeologists examine what he referred to as “his collections.” The best way to do that is to ensure that all American archaeologists have free and open access to these digital collections and will not have to jump through a bunch of bureaucratic hoops and justifications to obtain that access. For example, no one at RLA should be able to say, “We might show you our digital collection, but you will have to submit a research design first—one that we review and approve.” In the digital age, open access by qualified professionals is the wave of the future—and should be. Just sayin’.

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