This past week I attended the 60th anniversary of the Midwest Archaeological Conference in Iowa City, Iowa. While my presentation overlapped with the digital archaeology session, I was able to attend one presentation by Dr. Sissel Schroeder, Jake Pfaffenroth, Marissa Lee, and Sarah Taylor (University of Wisconsin-Madison) on Photogrammetry and 3D Models of Fabric from Impressions in Pottery.

Midwest Archaeological ConferenceInstead of using traditional methods to replicate the fabric patterns on prehistoric pottery, they created a 3D model using photogrammetry. This methodology allows archaeologists to replicate the pattern without causing damage, such as staining or leaving contaminates on the artifacts that occurs when using clay or dental impressions to make a mold.

After photographing the ceramic sherds, the authors imported them into Agisoft and MeshLab to create the 3D model. With these programs, they were able to reconstruct a 3D image of the fabric. This allowed them to study the variations present within cordage twist, weaving, twining, and other methods of production. In addition to creating a digital model, the authors were able to modify the image for 3D printing, allowing them to produce a physical model of the impressions without causing damage to the artifact.

While this study is in its preliminary stages of practice, their results indicate that it is an effective method for creating digital and physical models of fabric impressions (ancient textiles) that can be easily shared as well as brought into classrooms as teaching collections.

I am looking forward to trying out their methodology as I am learning and practicing different techniques of photogrammetry and 3D modeling!