Laurent Engels / Patrick Dunham / Nadine Warzée

(Service des Systémes Logiques et Numériques – SLN, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium )

Studying potteries is not a simple task for archaeologists. Missing or damaged parts are some of the more often encountered problems. One of the major centers of interest is the study of the capacity of these potteries, because it can provides information about their use, function, typology,… Currently used methods are very time-consuming or are applied only to complete forms. Today, researchers are introducing new technologies into the archaeologist’s world.

Various methods and software are developed in this domain. For example, the use of a 3D scanner allows creation of accurate models of sherds. Since potteries can often be considered as revolution objects, it is possible to compute their axis of symmetry from the model and then generate the profile for each sherd. Based on such technique, and if enough fragments of the same pottery are available, the full profile can be assembled and finally an estimation of the capacity can be computed.

But in most cases this technique can’t be applied, due to the important number of sherds the archaeologists have to study. They are working with drawings directly made from each pottery. In this context, we developed an online application to compute the capacities.
Archaeologists have to provide only a drawing, e.g. a jpeg file, and the application automatically extracts the profile and the rotation axis. Then, the user selects the top and bottom levels to dynamically compute the corresponding capacity in real-time.