3D Mapping Offers a New Way to Look at Historic Sites

My most important site is called Oven Site. It dates to 1615 so it’s more than four hundred years old, one of the earliest in English America and you’re looking at a, the whole of the site as dug over the last five years as we’ve excavated it and you’re seeing it in a 3D model. We never took an aerial photo, which looks like what you see but this model, this plan is really composed of more than 1,500 individual photos that show in great detail, at sort of a centimeter level, the entire site. So there are really three different ways to make three-dimensional models. One is to use a laser scanner. The second way would be to shoot overlapping photos from the ground. The third would be to mount that camera on a drone and actually do aerial flyovers. In this particular case they are fed into a software program and the algorithms in the software look at and compare each and every photo with other pairs and create a 3D model from these 2D images and then the last step is to take those photographs and re-drape them onto this 3D mesh surface. You can measure volumes. You can set scales and then you can take measurements of various features, stones, post holes, distances between points. So again, you could study this with the precision of actually being there in Bermuda but I can do it in some ways from the luxury of my office or teach archaeology using this site and a virtual field trip to the site in Bermuda here in the VISTA Collaboratory with a full class of archaeologists.

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