3D Modeling at the Bamburgh Research Project

Our Field School Coordinator, Cole Kelly, has been exploring more ways of bringing the Bamburgh Research Project excavations to the wider world:

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A still photo of the 3D model

“I started last summer by downloading a free trial version of Agisoft PhotoScan, a Photogrammetry program. Photogrammetry is essentially the process of making precise measurements by means of photography. One photograph on its owns cannot be measured with accuracy. Photogrammetry takes information from multiple photographs to create a highly accurate representation of the place or object. It is becoming increasingly important to the archaeological recording process.

After taking 50-80 pictures of a site the program renders the information into an adjustable 3D model. We can increase the accuracy of the model by combining it with real life 3D location points provided by our EDM machine. 

In the future I hope to bring many more features from our excavations into this easily sharable format. Eventually I would also like to have an online 3D gallery for all of the wonderful finds that the Bamburgh Research Project has discovered in the past.”

Click here to see the first 3D model from the Bamburgh Research Project. You can zoom in and out and control the model with your mouse. The model focuses on a feature located in trench 6 at the Bradford Kaims. Hopefully we will have many more to follow throughout the rest of the year!

8 thoughts on “3D Modeling at the Bamburgh Research Project

  1. Hi. Great article. I’ve played around with photogrammetry with 123D Catch. As an artist I was wondering what drew the project towards Agisoft PhotoScan as opposed to other software? I was also wondering what future directions are foreseen with such technology in archaeology. Obviously aligning virtual reconstruction of sites in their original form with the sites as they are now. But besides simple galleries, do you believe that it is possible to create a virtual landscape that is a viable teaching tool for archaeologists (in much the same way American Army is used to train soldiers in tactics) or even something that can capture the essence of a dig sufficiently that future archaeologists may study the photogrammetry and discover interpretations previously missed? Thanks for this post 🙂 It hit a number of my passions – technology, 3D art and history. Greg

    • It is early days for this technology in archaeology, and even more so for us, but I do think that it is hugely exciting and should have many uses.

      As someone who has spent his time in post excavation looking at plans, photographs and the written record trying to properly understand some element, I can say that there have been many times when I wanted to zoom in or rotate a photograph to get a better understanding of the feature and its context. A bit like Blade Runner! So a more complete means of recording the visual experience of the site is definitely attractive to me. This was one of the principle reasons we took to video recording with enthusiasm in the early days of the project. Excavation is a destructive process so the greater fidelity we can bring to our recording the better. Georeferenced photogrammetry will definitely up our game in this area.

      Ultimately I think the capacity for education and the ability to bring a virtual site into people’s homes will transform archaeology. So yes that is we hope our general direction of travel.


    • Hi Greg, Cole here. I looked at 123D Catch in the early stages but it didn’t seem to have the same power as the PhotoScan software. Their website provides very little info at to the specs and capabilities (such as geo-referencing). Plus I had only ever heard of archaeology projects using PhotoScan.

      It would be wonderful to have an entirely virtual landscape. If would love to use a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift in the future. If we had full digitizations of the trenches we could ‘walk around’ the trench through our past weeks of excavations to see what has changed. I have already been taking pictures of the trenches specifically for these purposes so that we can someday achieve this.

      I agree that it is invaluable to be able go go back through our excavations and reinterpret what was there. Not only for us but for future generations (If it turns out our initial interpretations were biased in any way).

      If you want to talk more feel free to drop me an email. I’d love to hear more about the work that your do.
      colekelly at bamburghresearchproject.co.uk

      • Thanks for responding to my comments. 🙂 I am fascinated, I admit. I will also follow your progress with interest. I strongly believe that we must push technology to its extremes to help us understand the past. Perhaps with thorough understanding then humanity will begin to appreciate its history well enough not to repeat its mistakes (cultural, ecological, economic, and so on). I have a degree in History and another in Computer Science – hence my interest 🙂 Once again thanks and good luck with the work. 🙂

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