3D Scanning and Photogrammetry of 17th and 18th Century Artifacts for Archaeology Month in Philadelphia, PA


I am a Digital Media graduate student at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Today I am working with 17th and 18th century archaeological artifacts excavated in 2001-2003 from what are now the grounds of the National Constitution Center in Independence National Historical Park (INHP) in Philadelphia. This archaeological site is the richest colonial American site ever excavated in an urban area. Last week, working with INHP Chief Historian and archaeologist Jed Levin and Drexel Digital Media Prof. Glen Muschio and undergraduate STAR Scholar Ryan Rasing I digitized the artifacts using a 3D scanner and photogrammetry techniques.

I used both techniques to investigate the pros and cons of 3D scanning versus photogrammetry. Specifically, I am documenting, evaluating, and comparing object extraction qualities (accuracy of shape, detail, and texture), equipment and software costs, duration of reconstructions, duration of photographing and scanning sessions, memory consumption, and object size limitations.

3d Scanning

3D scanning at the Independence National Historical Park (From left: Ryan Rasing, Jonnathan Mercado)

Photographs were taken with a Nikon D7000 in raw format. The photographs captured were imported into Agisoft Photoscan, where I worked to align the photographs, generate point cloud information, and produce the 3D models with corresponding textures. You can view, rotate, and pan the 3D model of a ceramic pitcher I am in the process of extracting by clicking the image below.

GreenPottery2 (Click to view in 3D)In addition to photogrammetry, I used the Artec Eva 9 scanner and software to digitize artifacts and align multiple scans, clean mesh topology, construct the 3D models, and extract color information. For a view of a colonoware rim click here.

By the end of my research I will have a greater understanding of the two methods employed. The 3D models produced will be used to create 2 Public Service Announcements (PSA) calling attention to ongoing archaeology projects in Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania.