Archaeology With PhotoModeler

The uses for photogrammetry in archaeology are varied - from artifact modeling, to the modeling of large excavations from kite photography! We’ve seen some fascinating sample projects completed by PhotoModeler and non-contact, non-invasive scanning technology of PhotoModeler Scanner.

PhotoModeler is used by archaeologists and anthropologists to:

  • Measure and create 3D models of artifacts
  • Perform morphological measurements
  • Document dig sites, terrain or structures in-situ
  • Measure shipwrecks
  • Document older structures for conservation and preservation
  • Extracting the 3D surface of cave paintings, petroglyphs or carvings
  • Modeling objects for curatorial purposes


"Fonte do Ídolo" in Portugal

PhotoModeler has proven to be a valuable tool for documenting heritage sites across the world. The "Fonte do Ídolo" is a historical monument in Braga, Portugal. It is a small 1st century AD Roman sanctuary which is carved from solid rock and had been an important and popular historical site. The Fonte do Ídolo's preservation is being threatened, as the site has been closed to the public for 2 years. The fight for its protection has been left to heritage organizations such as the ASPA and UNESCO

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This project was provided to Eos Systems, courtesy of INFOTOP of Portugal. This was a very large and detailed project, containing 2277 3D points, and 151 photographs taken with a Kodak DC4800 digital camera. The final 3D model will be displayed on the web for educational purposes. 

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Danish Shipwreck

During the construction of the new Opera house in Copenhagen, 3 old shipwrecks were found. The age of the ships have been determined by dendrology. One ship was built in Danzig, Poland in the year 1405. It is 45 feet long and the oak planks were still preserved as if they were new! The ships had been sunk intentionally to stop enemies from attacking Copenhagen. 


Pompeii Italy Preservation Project

This project was conducted by Marco Canciani at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Rome, Italy. The University is using PhotoModeler as part of their research for new methods of visualizing and documenting historic buildings and structures for preservation. The goal of the study was to add modern 3D modeling techniques to traditional methods of analyzing buildings.

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The study was done on a set of historic buildings in Pompeii, Italy. These small buildings are rich of architectural elements which show their evolution - from original design to restorations done following an earthquake in the 19th century. The building shown here is a tomb near Porta Nocera. Working directly with photos rather than drawings results in a more complete system of documenting these historical structures. 

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Cave Paintings

These paintings in the Ekain Cave, Basque Country (Spain) are from the Magdalenian Period. They are some of the most beautiful horse cave paintings in the Franco-Cantabrian art. The paintings are 12,500 years old and are located in different
galleries within the cave. The Ekain cave, in July 2008, was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Six PhotoModeler Scanner projects were created of two parts of the Zaldei gallery to evaluate the possibilities with PhotoModeler Scanner. The screen shot here is of one of those projects.

The projects consist of one or two photo pairs, each taken with a Nikon D70s with 27mm focal length lens. The projects were exported (including textures) from PhotoModeler Scanner and then imported into Cinema 4D to make final adjustments to the model & textures and for rendering.

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This project and video were created by Jan Wesbuer. The resulting models have close to one million triangles, and seven 2048 by 2048 texture images together.

The four frames of a video shown on the right are from the full-length movie. View the 5MB Flash video, or right click, save and play the original 22MB QuickTime mov file.

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This surface scan is of a hand-shaped petroglyph found on Hornby Island, BC, Canada. Two photographs with some coded targets placed on the ground were used to build the project for scanning.



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This animation shows the shaded form of the resulting mesh from PhotoModeler Scanner's 3D Viewer - showing coded target 3D points as well. An exaggeration factor of 2.0 in the Z axis was applied to make the shallow carving stand out.


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This hand-carved replica of a native North American ceremonial mask was photographed with a consumer Fuji F10 digital camera and processed in PhotoModeler Scanner.




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This animation of the mask shows the extracted surface with photo-textures extracted from the same project photos.



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Lion Statue

Lion project screen shot

This lion statue is located in Vancouver's famous Stanley Park. It is one of four lions that surround a bridge over the Lions Gate Bridge causeway.

This project is an excellent example of using PhotoModeler Scanner's two abilities to model both complex organic shapes through scanning, and geometric shapes through wireframes, points and surfaces. The project was completed by Mark Savoy on the Eos staff.

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Lion 3D animation

This animation of the lion statue shows a fly-around of the photo-textured result.






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Compost and Wood Chip Stockpile with MVS

This project of a large compost and wood chip operation was completed by a customer using 28 photos taken by a Canon IXUS 220HS carried by a UAV / UAS / drone.

While not an archaeological project, this project was processed by PhotoModeler Scanner 2014's MVS feature - producing great detail with little user input or work. It is indicative of what is possible with MVS with drone photos and earh works (perhaps dig sites). As well on the associated Stockpile MVS page you can see these PhotoModeler outputs: an Animation video, and an interactive SketchFab model.


Some Customers

  • Aalburg Historiske Museum, Denmark
  • Arizona State University
  • Canadian Heritage Centre for Maritime Archaeology
  • Dept. of Arts, Culture & Gaeltacht, Ireland
  • Institut fuer Geodaesie, Austria
  • Institute of Classical Archaeology, USA
  • Japan National Museum of Ethnology
  • Queensland Museum, Australia
  • Sociedade Mineira de Cultura, Brazil
  • US National Park Service
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

© 2018 PhotoModeler Technologies