Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New 3D visualisation technology supports archaeology

New high-tech viewing technology facilitates the rendition of archaeological data in 3D, making it accessible to researchers online. This facilitates collaborative projects and data exchange as well.
New 3D visualisation technology supports archaeology
Digital technology is offering many advances to unravel the secrets of ancient archaeology. In particular, 3D rendering of historic structures is playing an important role in documenting cultural heritage and contributing to its preservation. In this light, the EU-funded project ADS3DV (ADS 3D Viewer: A 3D real-time system for the management and analysis of archaeological data) investigated how WebGL (Web Graphics Library) can facilitate the management and analysis of archaeological data online.

The project team developed an interactive 3D viewer to help view, analyse and interpret archaeological data, enabling researchers to share 3D replicas of old sites and excavations. The new technology enables archaeologists to revisit records and study them using more modern sophisticated digital techniques that weren’t available when the original records were collected. This also encourages exchanges among scholars, potentially revolutionising the discipline.

ADS3DV designed the 3D viewer as a tool for the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) at the University of York in the United Kingdom. The ADS boasts over 40 000 unpublished fieldwork reports, over 20 000 journal articles and more than 1 000 data-rich archives. The viewer provides an online tool to visualise a site in 3D and extrapolate valuable data from the model.

Two versions of the viewer resulted from the project. The first, dubbed the Object Level 3D Viewer, advances browsing capability of ADS archives by creating 3D models. The second, named the Stratigraphy 3D Viewer, processes and integrates multiple layers of an archaeological stratigraphic sequence into a single 3D environment. Importantly, the adaptable, flexible viewer technology works on both arbitrary and stratigraphic excavation.

Providing enhanced digital and metric 3D representations of the excavation process online and supporting researchers in their interpretations positions the ADS 3D Viewer as an exciting concept for collaborative study. The technology is poised to facilitate interdisciplinary, remote and cross-border collaboration that will bring the best out of archaeological work and take the field to a whole new level.

Related information

Keywords

Archaeological data, cultural heritage, ADS3DV, 3D Viewer, WebGL, excavation
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