3D GIS in archaeology – a micro-scale analysis

Posted on 01 November 2016

Talk: Undine Lieberwirth and Axel Gering (Topoi), “3D GIS in archaeology – a micro-scale analysis”.

Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-1780-0000-002B-EE37-2

Date: Tuesday, 01 November 2016

Time: starting at 17:00 c.t. (i.e. 17:15)

Venue: DAI, Wiegandhaus, Podbielskiallee 69-71, D-14195 Berlin (map)


The new method of solid 3d modelling presented in this study allows new statistical perspectives for archaeological, geophysical and geochemical records in a 3D GIS environment. The micro-scale analysis investigates archaeological excavation trenches of the West Porticus in Ostia.

The study shows the range of possibilities available for using standardised vector, raster and voxel data formats (OGC) in the open source environments GRASS GIS and ParaView. It allows the creation of a digital model of all documented archaeological information – including legacy data come from laser scan, SfM, AutoCAD drawings and photographs – in a real 3D coordinate system. The addition of 3D geochemical and geophysical research data to the archaeological record allows a comparison of all gathered information, leading to a better understanding of archaeological remains. The course of stratigraphy can be detected throughout 3D space and common tools like filtering and querying can create new thematic 3D models, thereby allowing insight into entire structure and detecting 3D patterns. The newly created 3D maps not only offer new possibilities for looking at archaeological facts from any perspective, but also allow the re-excavation in a spatio-temporal environment by adding the fourth dimension. Furthermore, the reconstruction and analysis process has a retroactive effect on documentation. The model holds information everywhere within the 3D scape, and can therefore produce profiles and sections anywhere. Is there a need to document these any more?

The spatio-temporal cultural-scapes model not only gives new perspectives in documentation and analysis of archaeological data at the micro-scale; our example shows how it also provides insights into the most interesting parts of the area underneath the antique marble stone pavement of the West Porticus at the Ostia forum (a pavement which had never before been lifted), dating from the 2nd to the 6th century BC.


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