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VCU Archaeology

California Scanning: A Feasting Bowl, a Stone Hoe, and a Seahorse

by Dr. Bernard K. Means, project director

Dr. John Nass and a colleague look at a poster discussing virtual curation.

On Monday, September 24, I was in California…. California, Pennsylvania, that is–at California University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. John Nass had invited me to talk to students and faculty from multiple disciplines (archaeology, biology, art/design) about the potential and limitations of the NextEngine 3D Desktop scanner for a wide variety of applications.  John Nass was concerned with virtual curation of the archaeological record, while the art and design faculty were interested in replicating natural forms for artistic expression in various media, including jewelry.


I actually arrived on Sunday, September 23, and worked with John Nass to set up scanning in their forensic archaeology laboratory.  As a test, we scanned a Monongahela feasting bowl recovered from the Campbell Farm site.  There were some challenges with placing this irregularly shaped object on the scanner’s rotating platform–fortunately, a pink sponge proved sufficient for stabilizing the object.  The scan came out very well.

Monongahela feasting bowl photograph and digital model.

Digital model of a seahorse.

On Monday, September 24, following breakfast at an iconic diner outside of Uniontown with John Nass and industrial archaeologist Marc Henshaw, the three of us returned to California University of Pennsylvania to prepare for the students and other faculty that would be coming in and out of the forensic archaeology laboratory as I demonstrated 3D scanning, as well as showing students the printed plastic models I had brought with me.  I began the day with scanning a stone hoe recovered from the surface of a site in West Virginia. I then scanned a seahorse for the design faculty.  Both objects scanned very well.


Stone hoe photograph and digital model.

My stay at California University of Pennsylvania was brief, but one of the highlights was when John Nass brought in a group of his archaeology students at the end of the morning.  They asked several insightful and provocative questions about scanning, and we discussed innovative ways that 3D scanning of artifacts could be applied to recovered to documenting features–particularly graves–and virtual reconstruction of lithic cores from scans of debitage.

Certainly, from my perspective, going to California helped broaden my perspective on the significance of virtual curation efforts.

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3 thoughts on “California Scanning: A Feasting Bowl, a Stone Hoe, and a Seahorse

  1. Wish this technology had been prevelent back when we were doing our Mon site back in the 80’s and 90’s.

    Posted by Natale Kirshner Shawl | September 26, 2012, 11:41 am

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