Lloyd Bosworth : archaeologist | human | beard

Posts in the 3D Modelling category

Why a 3D Topographic Model?

dem created in arcgis from contour dataI’ve been asked to produce a walk-through animation of a reconstructed archaeological site that shows the landscape setting of important buildings, and how these buildings constrained the movement of people. Reconstructing the buildings is pretty simple, with lots of reference material available. However, the 3D topographical model of the landscape is much trickier, made worse by not having any digital elevation data, only paper maps with contours.

Drawing contours with height attributes is easy in ArcGIS, but when I was asked to create an animation, I had no idea how to get the GIS shapefile data into my 3d software for animating. I figured there must be a way, and sure enough, ArcGIS has all the tools for converting and exporting a shapefile that can then be opened in pretty much any 3d software package.

Scratched into the surface of this Roman tile is graffiti insulting someone called Attius, calling him stupid, or possibly something altogether more vulgar. It was 3D laser scanned as part of a week-long event where Canterbury Roman Museum poet in residence, Dan Simpson, walks the Roman road from London to Canterbury. Along the way, Dan will be visiting museums and talking to experts about Roman life, tweeting thoughts and photos, and composing poetry.

“Atti Ped” – Roman tile with graffiti.
by l3db6h
on Sketchfab

The walk is supported by the University of Kent’s School of European Culture & Languages.

The Roman tile is on display at Dartford Borough Museum.

More about Dan here.

skyphos-point-sectionGreek Skyphos Illustration

This is a quick post showing how 3D scan data can be used to create very accurate artefact illustration. The example here is a two-handled Greek skyphos from around the 5th century BCE and is in the Beaney Museum collection, Canterbury. This object lends itself well to scanning, as the opening is wide enough to allow for a complete scan inside and out. If the neck had been too narrow to allow scanning the inside, then the wall thickness would need to be estimated, but this would be true for a hand drawn illustration also.


A quick survey carried out over two days of the standing remains of Portus Lemanis, a late Roman fort of the Saxon Shore fort system, Lympne, Kent. We were using a Faro Focus laser scanner to record a 3D point cloud of the walls.

The hillside upon which the fort was built is mostly clay, and over the centuries the fort has been slowly falling and rolling down the slope, as can be seen in the images. The ruins are on private land and cannot be visited by the public.

Enjoy this rare glimpse of this important Roman monument.

Gallery of 28 photos below…


Canterbury Roman helmet.

An incredibly well preserved bronze helmet, dated to the mid-1st century BCE Iron-Age, was found earlier this year near Canterbury by a metal detectorist who, thankfully, reported their find to Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT). CAT then carried out an excavation of the find spot to ensure that everything was fully recorded. Knowing that we have a high-resolution laser scanner at The University of Kent, CAT brought the helmet to us to see what this cutting edge technology would reveal.