The detailed topography and ease of manipulation provided by 3D models makes them a useful, interesting, and accessible research tool in archaeology. A 3D representation of a feature or object can be manipulated and viewed in ways not possible with the physical surface. Digital 3D images provide opportunities for study that would otherwise be impossible or impractical. However, their creation is a time consuming process.
1. Dozens to hundreds of scans, 25cm square, are taken of a surface.
2. Each scanned image is "pinned" to all adjacent scans by association of overlapping features, making a patchwork of digital images.
3. This patchwork of images eventually takes shape as a digital representation of the scanned surface.
4. The collection of digital images is merged together and imperfections are eliminated, creating an exact three dimensional model of the scanned object.
5. These 3D computer files can then be post-processed into other, more widely accessible forms, such as 3D PDFs, animations, or other displays.