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.

Preparations for Archaeology Month in the City of Brotherly Love Philadelphia, PA

By Ryan Rasing

STAR “Students Tackling Advanced Research” Scholars Program

Digital Media Department, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design

Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

I am a freshman studying Game Art and Production at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University. This summer I am participating in the STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) Scholars Program. Working under Associate Professor Dr. Glen Muschio. Today I am storyboarding two Public Service Announcements (PSAs). One PSA is for a Philadelphia archaeology event open to the public, the other is to announce Pennsylvania’s Archaeology Month, set for October this year. The PSA’s will be shown on a giant LED screen on the 27th floor of the PECO (Philadelphia Electric Company) Building in Center City, Philadelphia.

Philadelphia PSA Draft Screenshot

One of the PSAs will show Philadelphia’s skyline rising above layers of stratigraphy. Selected 3D artifacts will begin to move across the screen superimposed over the skyline/stratigraphy background. As the artifacts exit the frame, text follows announcing, “Explore Philadelphia’s Buried Past 10/10”.  The PSA will run 30 seconds in length and will be shown on the PECO Crown Lights for 3 days in October.

The second PSA will also feature 3D models of archaeological artifacts from the Independence National Historical Park’s collection. Last week I assisted Digital Media grad student Jonnathan Mercado in scanning and photographing artifacts selected by INHP Chief Historian and archaeologist Jed Levin.

Inspecting artifacts at the Independence National Historical Park
Inspecting artifacts at the Independence National Historical Park (From Left: Jonnathan Mercado, Ryan Rasing, Jed Levin)
Working on the PSA
Working on the PSA