Benjamin DUCKE1 / David BIBBY2
(1Independent Researcher / 2Digital Archaeology, State Heritage Management; Baden-Württemberg, Germany)

Keywords: 3D documentation, rapid 3D modeling, low-cost workflows

Among the many innovations that the Computer Age has brought to archaeological field practice, 3D digital data acquisition must be considered one of the most spectacular. However, the fact that full 3D site recording and reconstruction are still not part of the “archaeological routine” indicates that the impact of new technologies is limited by a range of factors that include much more than just technological problems. These include the cost and efficiency of 3D-capable hardware and software, as well as their intrusiveness to established workflows, regarding both data acquisition and management. Significant faultlines remain between 2D traditions and 3D technologies. The issue of “best 3D practice” remains to be resolved, and practical guidelines must also consider the challenges of long-term archivability, standardization and barrier free dissemination of 3D data.

This paper focuses on innovative, lean and low-cost approaches to the 3D documentation of archaeological sites and other objects of interest. It discusses solutions that integrate seamlessly with existing workflows and thus provide added data value at small operational overhead, such as rapid tachymetric recording and images-based reconstruction. It also presents some selected, freely available software tools that have been designed with archaeological end users in mind. The integration of these tools into actual field work is illustrated using case studies. The papers technological coverage also includes aspects such as the interplay of 3D data with other software, in particular the challenges of GIS vs. CAD and topological data models.