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VCU Archaeology

Scanning with the Hominins (and Groundhogs)

by Amanda Ndemo, VCU Honors College Student

This summer I had the opportunity to work with VCU’s Virtual Curation Lab. Before beginning my internship my knowledge of three dimensional laser scanning was minimal, I had only heard of it briefly in some of my classes and hadn’t really placed much thought into its impact within the field of archaeology. The opportunity to work at the lab came about in an advising meeting during last spring semester. I had been looking for summer internship opportunities and when I was told about the Virtual Curation Lab I knew it would be a unique and beneficial experience for me.

My first day working with the NextEngine Scanner. Aaron Ellrich, shown seated, helped guide my efforts.

My first day working with the NextEngine Scanner. Aaron Ellrich, shown seated, helped guide my efforts.

My internship is a collaboration with VCU’s Honors Summer Undergraduate Research Program (HSURP) so one of my tasks while at the Virtual Curation Lab was in developing a research topic on 3D scanning. After weeks of research and help from my mentor, Dr. Means, I decided to expound on the benefits of 3D laser scanning in bio-archaeological studies specifically dealing in the areas of morphometric analysis. Some of the items that were scanned include faunal remains such as groundhog and raccoon bones, other items scanned were hominid skull replicas.

Left femur of a groundhog.

Left femur of a groundhog.

When I first started out at the lab I was a bit nervous to begin with, mainly because managing the equipment and software did seem very complicated. However, my transition into the lab and learning the basics of the NextEngine scanner turned out to be an easy task. With the help from the coordinator, other interns as well as pictorial guidelines created for the software it didn’t take too long before I had a hang on things. Although things went smoothly in the beginning with the scanning process I do have to admit it quickly changed when it came down to post processing the data. With no previous knowledge on the applications used in editing 3D models it became a daunting task of trial and error.

View of Homo heidelbergensis skull from the front.

View of Homo heidelbergensis skull from the front.

View of Homo heidelbergensis skull from the side.

View of Homo heidelbergensis skull from the side.

View of Homo heidelbergensis from the bottom.

View of Homo heidelbergensis from the bottom.

 

 

Much of the work I’m doing is still in progress but as the summer comes to an end I plan to continue my research into the upcoming school year.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Scanning with the Hominins (and Groundhogs)

  1. Pretty 3D fossil. Which specimen is it based on? Would you happen to have images of other reconstructed huminoid 3D skulls? Particularly I’m interested in Sahelanthropus, Orrorin, Ardipithecus, Kenyanthropus, Homo Naledi, Homo Habilis, Homo Ergaster, Homo Antecessor and Homo Heidelbergensis, as I am trying to outline our “ancestry”.

    Posted by Daniel Giversen | February 15, 2017, 5:57 pm

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