The Practical Archaeologist's Approach to 3D Modeling and Related Technologies

Sebastian Heath


This talk will introduce methods and tools that can be adopted by archaeologists, art historians, and other cultural heritage practitioners with relative ease. Among the techniques to be discussed is making 3D models from photographs and restoring the three-dimensional aspect of architectural plans. Both these processes can be achieved with free or relatively inexpensive software. What to do with 3D content will also be a theme. Animations that include simulation of real-world phenomena such as wind and realistic environments are both techniques that almost any notebook computer can handle. On-screen and immersive 3D environments that include interactive elements are likewise straightforward to make and share with the public. This talk is predicated on the idea that archaeologists and others should actively engage with these technologies and come to understand how they will affect our work. A focus will be on tools that can be learned relatively easily by anyone interested in exploring this rapidly developing field.

Sebastian Heath is Clinical Assistant Professor of Ancient Studies at ISAW. He has an A.B. from Brown University in Medieval Studies and received his Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. His research interests include Roman pottery, numismatics, and Digital Humanities with a focus on computational approaches to Mediterranean archaeology. He is editor of ISAW Papers and ISAW's born-digital books. The most recent publication in the latter series is Bagnall et al An Oasis City.

Dr. Heath has participated in excavation and survey in Cyprus, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Current field work includes publication of Roman pottery from the Lower City at Troy in Turkey and work on archival material from the American Excavation at Kenchreai in Greece. Much of his published work appears in digital form. His most recent publication is "Animated Shadows on Virtual Stone: Ancient Sundials in a Gallery Setting" with C. Roughan and R. Herschman in the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. Other recent work includes "Preliminary Report on Early Byzantine Pottery from a Building Complex at Kenchreai (Greece)" in ISAW Papers. He is co-editor with Billur Tekkök of the digital publication Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia), is an editor of The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project: Internet Edition, and a founding editor of Along with Jennifer Chi, he is co-editor of the exhibition catalog Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews and Christians at Roman Dura-EuroposOther articles and chapters include "Legal Threats to Cultural Exchange of Archaeological Materials" (online) in the American Journal of Archaeology (2009); "Diversity and Reuse of Digital Resources for Ancient Mediterranean Material Culture" (online) in the volume Digital Research in the Study of Classical Antiquity, Bodard and Mahony, eds. (2010); and "Closing Gaps with Low-Cost 3D" in Visions of Substance: 3d Imaging in Mediterranean Archaeology, B. Olson and W. Caraher, eds. (2015). He was Project Manager of the NEH-Funded "Linked Ancient World Data Institute" (LAWDI). A report on LAWDI has recently appeared in Information Standards Quarterlyand reports on many of the projects presented at LAWDI are available in "Current Practice in Linked Open Data for the Ancient World," ISAW Papers 7.

From 2008 to 2011, Dr. Heath served as Vice-President for Professional Responsibilities of the Archaeological Institute of America. He came to ISAW from the American Numismatic Society, where he remains a Research Scientist, Life Fellow, and Trustee (2017-2019).

See for links to digital copies of publications and other materials.

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