Cultural heritage applications for 3D scans

Hi there.

One of the purposes of our company is to combine field and archive photogrammetry.

I post there one of our first attempt : the archaeological excavation of Les Pradelles in southwest France (village of Marillac-le-Franc), a Middle Palaeolithic killing site (thousands of reindeer bone fragments, Mousterian knapped stones and butchered human — Neandertal — remains).
This site is known from the 1930s but the site was mainly excavated during two sessions : 1967–1980 then 2001–2013.

The first two models are reconstructed from old photographs. The last one (2013) is a more classical field photogrammetry reconstruction.

This is an ‘archaeology of archaeologists’ job, in a certain way.

François … … … … … … … … … … … Please visit the Virtual Museum at It is an interactive MUVE that uses the UNREAL engine so, unfortunately the museum does require a plugin (this is the platform that we are using). The software has VOIP embedded and up to 20 people can be in the museum at the same time experiencing the space simultaneously. However the 3D data and gaming engine have to be downloaded on the local machine just like a MMOG (this has its benefits since when you re-enter it only takes 8 secs to go back into the virtual environment. We are trying to import as many models as possible. (there is a bit of a queue of items we are taking from SKETCHFAB to upload into the museum) Here’s another example of a natural history museum

@abbyec @bartv @bdnewnan @nebulousflynn @fmmltd @iconem @archeo_pablo Virtual Classical Greek Ortli excavation site in Crimea available to explore at Screenshots
Taken from this SKETCHFAB downloaded site by AGISOFT

That looks brilliant! So do I understand correctly that it includes some models that you downloaded from Sketchfab? Could you credit them?

Hi all,

I’ve started a related thread to this one called ‘Tools for Cultural Heritage applications?’.

Hi all, here’s an interesting article from JISC Legal regarding UK law around 3D scanning - it was written for universities/educational institutions but is probably also relevant to the cultural heritage sector too:

If anyone has links to other articles on 3D scanning law I’d be interested to see how different countries or applications of the tech treat issues of copyright etc.

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@bdnewnan Imported your EEyore and the racoon fissing on fossils into virtual museum at

If anybody is going to be in San Francisco in mid-April, the Society for American Archaeology will be having a couple of relevant panels at its annual meeting. Both panels are on Thursday the 16th:

3D Modeling and Printing in Archaeology: Transformative Innovations/Appropriations
(Sponsored by Sustainable Archaeology/iPINCH)
Moderators: Neal Ferris; George Nicholas
Discussants: Maurizio Forte; Mary
Compton; Peter Dawson; Eric Hollinger;
Kristina Killgrove; Heather McKillop

MayaArch3D: Building a 3DWebGIS Documentation and Analysis System for Complex Archaeological Sites
Chairs: Jennifer Von Schwerin; Markus Reindel; Heather Richards-Rissetto
Participants: Markus Reindel and Jennifer
von Schwerin; Fabio Remondino and Belen
Jiménez Fenández-Palacios; Jennifer Von
Schwerin and MIke Lyons; Lukas Loos,
Michael Auer, Nicolas Billen and Alexander
Zipf; Nicolas Billen, Lukas Loos, Michael
Auer and Alexander Zipf; Laura Stelson;
Franziska Fecher; Michael Lyons and
Jennifer von Schwerin; Heather
Richards-Rissetto, Michael Auer, Jennifer
von Schwerin and Nicolas Billen
Discussant: Maurizio Forte

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Hi everyone! Thanks for the invitation.

I teach 3d printing and scanning (mostly for CAD) and lots of other things at a small private university as a lab tech. However, I’ve been trying to find a way to branch out to work with local museums to digitize their collections. Unfortunately, it seems like money is always an issue and I don’t know how to get government grants, so I’ve been dead in the water for a while. If anyone has any advice on that issue, I would love to hear it.

Also, I’m trying to talk some people that know Jimmy Carter into getting me and him together so I can scan him…it’s a long shot, but hey, I can dream!


I work in computer graphics and have come at the problem of 3d scanning using the concept of light field rendering. I spent years developing solid software to help process and render these data sets for novel research purposes. You have to roll your own, there are no off-the-shelf systems for this. I’ve always known vaguely about photogrammetry and the ideas in computer vision but was far enough shielded from the technique that I never delved too deeply.

This past Fall, I discovered PhotoScan and gave it a spin. My life has changed as a result! The data captured by photoscan (and similar photogrammetry software) is the exact same data one captures to form a light field. Furthermore, the difficult task of constructing a polygonal mesh as proxy geometry from those photographs is made trivial by this software. But there is a huge opportunity that is being missed here.

The typical output of a highly detailed polygonal mesh and texture represents an excellent scan of shape and a high resolution capture of color but a very mediocre scan of appearance. However, the appearance IS there in the original photographs! Each photograph is a 2d slice of the much more detailed 4d light field of the object. A minimal amount of effort to analyze the original photos and combine their pixels at render time produces a vastly superior result. With the connection between photogrammetry and light field rendering being only mm away at this point, I believe that the time has come for all of this to leap out of the research lab an into common use!

We have just begun an exciting partnership with the staff photographers at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where they are already exploring the techniques that are documented and supported by the Cultural Heritage Institute. They are also rapidly exploring the power of PhotoScan and photogrammetry for non-flat object (something that the CHI also offer educational services for). Our work with them is to advance this to the next level by making the appearance properties of the scanned objects just as precise as the shape and color that photogrammetry provides.

I don’t have any examples posted just yet (we want it to mature a little more before we start to disseminate things) but you can take a look at a few of my models to see what we’ve achieved with PhotoScan in my own basement. It is astonishingly easy!

I’m excited for all the projects that are mentioned here and we are always looking for more data to examine and share alike and ways to make all of this more accessible to the world. I love that we may have found a place here to share ideas and projects! Thanks to everyone for putting their work out there! Thanks to SketchFab for facilitating it all.

Seth Berrier
Asst. Prof. of Computer Science
University of Wisconsin Stout

I scan people, landscapes, still lifes, architectures, as painters paint them.
My pieces of architecture are more virtual sculptures than documents.
So I use portfolios as showrooms

Btw your own “documents” I saw on sketchfab are very great, archeologie, sculptures etc.
And it is always amazing to awake on morning and seing than Brian D Newman uploaded 6 or 7 masterpieces during the night :slight_smile:

I am a bit off the topic, but as Bart invited me here, I try to have some idea, lol.
I could say that a map of all the archeologic/architecture objects scanned and showned on sketchfab, could be nice.
All the locations with a link to the objects…On a map.
May be it had been already tied with Google map, I didnt check.

hi all, i have been developing great number o works, such as rock art, archeological sites or monuments. There are plenty uses for all this, not only to show on internet, nowadays we use to document along time, to restore missing parts, to make videos, to share models through Augmented Reality, to print replicants museistic objets in 3D, … and a great amount of differents works that lead to open new ways for developing cultural heritage. Here you can have a look to some works in order to share ideas for you all. thanks.

I provide tech support for a range of imaging technologies so most of the things I’m posting a tests I do from learning more about photogrammetry and experimenting with different workflows (especially now that Photoscan supports fisheye lenses) The expertise we gain will then be a potential resource for other areas of my uni, primarily along the conservation/archaeology areas.

I jumped into photogrammetry after discovering Photoscan over a year ago. I’ve been slowly learning how to properly photograph items to get better results since then.

Between here and Thingiverse, I’ve shared a handful of different items, such as 19th century grave markers, ancient sculptures and other odds and ends that I can easily access. I’ve done it all just for the fun of it. I also have a small ulterior motive in hoping that some of the things I’ve digitized will prove useful someday to someone, sort of like sharing a photo of an event that might be important for reasons I’ve not considered.

I strongly believe that cultural / heritage items should be widely and freely available and 3D scans and models are a natural evolution from 2D static photos. It also makes previously fragile / stored / obscure things available to the public to interact with. I can think of dozens of different Greco-Roman sculptures I’ve only ever seen as photographs that I’d love to see in person, but I simply don’t have the funds to travel to Europe to visit them in the museums. 3D scans would suffice for me in my own case and I would probably be able to see any digitized sculpture under better circumstances at my computer than I would have in a crowded, restrictive museum setting.

I am probably preaching to the choir here, but the great public good that can be realized by 3D scanning of cultural items and heritage sites can’t be overstated. In places like Pompeii & Herculaneum, where the potential for further crumbling and vandalism is high, digital documentation in 3D is a no-brainer. Thinking of those two sites again, with Vesuvius long overdue for an eruption, I would be surprised if either archaeological site survived another eruption given their age and locations.

I’ve been dwelling on this concept in private ever since I started and have developed some strong personal opinions about 3D scanning and its benefits. Sometimes I run into walls with people and I just try my best to inform and educate them.

I haven’t tried to turn my hobby into a source of income as I don’t feel that my talents are good enough to justify charging anything. But, I can say I haven’t had this much fun in years!

Hi, #jiscdigital is now running a workshop for 3D imaging, for HE and FE, looking at 3D scanning of heritage objects and we use Sketchfab as part of the programme. I think this is maybe one of the first courses of its type.

@mattfaberjisc Do you have any more info on this, like a link?

Hey @barker_js - I asked Matt about it in a ‘linked topic’. It seemed to make sense to have that info in a separate thread for some more visibility here on the forum. The link is to the right of his message.

This is the link to course but I must stress that it is only available to academic institutions and government organisations. Sorry if this disappoints.

This is a scan from our most recent workshop.

Fortunately I work for an academic institution! Unfortunately, I live in the US, so I wouldn’t be able to attend anyway. Do you mind giving a summary of what you cover in your class?

Joe, would you remove the two figures, 40 Million Years and And He Was Sad by Bob Coffee for now. It is nicely done, but. Thanks. Brian Newnan