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VCU Archaeology

Virtually Educating People about the Past

by Bernard K. Means, Director

Lauren Volkers scans a mortar with the NextEngine scanner mounted on a tripod.

Lauren Volkers scans a mortar with the NextEngine scanner mounted on a tripod.

This second week of January 2014 is start of the spring semester at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and we will continue our scanning of archaeological objects and animal bones.  Our 3D scanning efforts are designed to help us create virtual type collections, which can be used for identification, analysis, and public education.  Toward the last goal, I would like to highlight an article I received in the mail yesterday, written by Ashley McCuistion, our Digital Curation Supervisor and currently an undergraduate student at VCU.  Her article, entitled “Promoting the Past: The Educational Applications of 3D Scanning Technology in Archaeology” was published in the Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 29:35-42. From her abstract,

Imagery and physical representations play a key role in the interpretation, analysis, and publication of archaeological data.  Archaeological visualization has been created using a wide range of media throughout history, including drawings, photographs, reconstructions, diagrams, and now three-dimensional (3D) models generated using laser scanning technology. 3D scanning has tremendous potential to expand archaeology, offering solutions to curation issues, allowing new perspectives in artifact analysis and preservation, and creating numerous opportunities for public archaeology.  This paper will examine archaeological visualization and its future in the rapidly expanding sphere of technology, focusing specifically on three- dimensional scanning and its great strength for public outreach and education.

Plastic replicas of points.

Plastic replicas of points.

Ashley discusses in her paper how we use digital models and plastic replicas in teaching at K-12, the undergraduate level, and in public outreach efforts.

January 14, 2014 in the Virtual Curation Laboratory.

January 14, 2014 in the Virtual Curation Laboratory. Lauren Volkers, foreground, edits a digital model; Mariana Zechini, center, paints a printed bone replica to look more realistic; and, Allen Huber scans a World War II helmet.

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