3D scanning of archaeological artefacts

Hearing about new technology in archaeology is always an exciting topic of conversation for the Geomatics Team here at Cotswold Archaeology – especially when that technology includes the term ‘laser’!

Scanning artefacts is a relatively new concept for the team, but after a virtual demonstration of a number of scanners by Central Scanning Ltd, we were keen to learn more. Embracing this technology would provide us with the ability to quickly and accurately  scan artefacts to an incredible level of detail. Scans of objects would allow us to create amazing 3D models, allowing us to share exciting artefacts visually with our clients and the wider public (and who doesn’t love a nice 3D model!).

In order to explore the technology further, we took a couple of interesting artefacts up to the offices of Central Scanning Ltd in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where they very kindly let us trial their scanning equipment.

I slowly and carefully drove the heavily packaged artefacts up to Bromsgrove, to watch and learn from Alex at Central Scanning Ltd as he demonstrated the techniques used to scan objects with (the fabulously named) ‘Artec Space Spider’. The scanner is a structured light scanner and has an accuracy of 0.05mm and a resolution of 0.1mm! Being told to think of scanning as “like using a can of spray paint”, made the process much easier to understand as we scanned a Roman brooch, a wooden bowl and two fragments of another wooden object.

Roman Brooch recovered from Gloscat excavations in Gloucester

The objects were scanned on two sides and were made into complete 3D models using Artec Studio. These models were then exported as.obj files so that they could be shared online via Sketchfab.

We very much hope that this exciting new technology will increasingly become part of the work we do, so watch this space for more 3D models of exciting artefacts in the near future!

With thanks to Alex and Nick at Central Scanning Ltd.

Keighley Wasenczuk

Wooden bowl recovered from Redcliffe, Bristol
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