Point clouds have been used for the documentation of archaeological features since the beginning of the 2000s. The laser based methods of measurement record features extremely fast with an unprecedented accuracy and completeness. However, point clouds do not contain the borders of the features, which are very important for archaeology. These borders can only be determined on the excavation after long discussions and comparisons of the features. The documentation of these archaeological borders was usually made by hand as a set of drawings to be added to point clouds at a later date. However, the transfer of these archaeological content into point clouds was only possible with powerful computers and specialized softwares.
This workflow has the following issues:
Required Time: Increase of required time due to the double process of surveying.
Data Access: Lack of access to the combined archaeological and surveying information.
Content Quality: Transfer of the archaeological information into point clouds with the help of (external) measurement / software specialists and not by the archaeological experts on the excavation.
As a result, point clouds (and specifically the products derived from them, such as: movies, pictures, etc.) were mainly used for marketing and presentation. Their scientific information had only a peripheral input into the archaeological evaluation.
To solve these issues a project was granted from 2012 to 2014 by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) consisting of:
Jacobs University, Bremen
The result of the project is a software solution, which enables the archaeological specialists themselves to determine the point clouds directly on the excavation site on an archaeological point of view, by defining and naming the borders of the features in the 3D space of the point cloud.
This software has been presented at international conferences (CIPA 2013, Strasbourg, France and CIPA 2015 Taipei, Taiwan) under the name Castle3D (“Computer aided system for labeling archaeological excavations in 3D“) as proof of concept. (check our publications under the menu item “About us”)