Virtual Models in Archaeology
Using 3D modelling technology for research in the digital humanities
3D modelling is best known for its use in animation, video games or architectural visualisation. But in the field of archaeology it also has the power to be used as a tool for research, especially when it comes to questions about building construction. As such the 3D model itself can be used to develop scientific hypothesis and generate new knowledge. New documentation technologies as for example 3D photogrammetry allow virtual replications of archaeological objects and structures which support the reconstruction modelling greatly.
Together with the «Swiss Archaeological School in Greece» (ESAG) the reconstruction model of an ancient greek building at the site of Amarynthos was created. All the relevant findings were digitised using 3D photogrammetry, with the models then being used to build up the reconstruction model. Bringing the different elements together allowed to gain new insights and develop new hypothesis. Areas that could not be constructed with the findings of the Amarynthos excavation had to use similar structures from other sites as reference.
The final model as product of this research process shows on its own nothing of the complex information involved. To communicate these to an audience not familiar with the topic, the prototype to an interactive application was set up, which allows a critical approach to the model. The topic of 3D visualisations in archaeology still leaves many questions open. Thus the research project continues as part of the ZHdK Knowledge Visualization research faculty.
Swiss Archaeological School in Greece (ESAG), Tobias Krapf (Research Assistant at the ESAG), Alexandra Tanner (architect and researcher at the Department of Archaeology, University of Zurich)
Joe Rohrer (Scientific Illustrator & lecturer ZHdK Knowledge Visualization)
MA Knowledge Visualization, ZHdK