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VCU Archaeology

Now in 3D!!! You, Too, Can Print the Past

by Bernard K. Means

Actually, we have been “in 3D” for years now, of course, but we have joined with a growing number of archaeologists and cultural institutions to make the world’s heritage more widely accessible via the Sketchfab site.  Sketchfab enables 3D digital models to be uploaded and then viewed and manipulated within a web browser.


The Virtual Curation Laboratory is rapidly adding models to our own Sketchfab site, http://sketchfab.com/virtualcurationlab, most from our partners in the cultural heritage community.  We are rapidly approaching 300 models of historic and prehistoric artifacts, ethnographic items, and zooarchaeological reference collection, with new models added each week. In most cases, when permissions are given, the digital models of scanned artifacts can be downloaded for manipulation and even 3D printing.  We use a Creative Commons license that allows one to freely download and use these models, as long as they are not used commercially and as long as attribution is given if redistributed. I strongly suggest that you examine not only our Sketchfab site but the many other sites with that preserve the world’s heritage.  We are working to develop object-based lesson plans that highlight how our models can inform people about the heritage beneath their feet, and will share these at a future date.


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