In 2008 DAACS received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Joint Information Systems Committee (UK) to conduct large scale shovel-test-pit surveys of slave villages on three 18th-century sugar estates, two on Nevis and one on St. Kitts. A portion of the grant provided funds to 3D laser scan sherds of Afro-Caribbean ware, a locally-made coarse earthenware found at these village sites. Using 3D scanning techniques established by Neil Smith and students at the University of California San Diego Levantine Archaeology Laboratory, DAACS embarked on a project to provide 3D scans of diagnostic, decorated, or otherwise unique Afro-Caribbean sherds. DAACS aims to expand this project to include 3D laser scans of Colonoware ceramics, as well as other non-ceramic artifact types from sites throughout the Atlantic World.
The Laser Scanning Process
DAACS uses a NextEngine 3D Scanner HD to produce 3D image files of the scanned artifact. The scanner is set to image the object in the highest possible detail; currently, 40,000 points/in2. Complete, 360-degree scans are created in seven rotations of the object and result in seven images per artifact.
High Definition scans of a single sherd take between 20 and 30 minutes to complete. Once image files are produced, they are processed using ScanStudio HD software. Seven .jpg files are created that contain the color overlay for the object. Processing includes “fusing” the seven images to create a seamless, 3D object, as well as correcting any gaps in the scans. The single fused scan contains millions of data points for that artifact and is saved as .scn and .obj files. A single 3D image can take anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete.
Finding and Viewing the 3D Scans
DAACS gives website users access to both the .obj file and the .jpg files for each artifact scanned by DAACS staff, although users currently do not have the ability to view the 3D scans through the website. Inexpensive ways to view the images online, such as using Adobe Reader or through a Google Earth Plug-In, do not provide good-quality online images. Instead, we recommend viewing the 3D images through a free downloadable application, GLC Player. Click here to download GLC Player to your machine.
3D scans are most easily found using Image Query 2. Select the sites and “3D Artifact Image”. The query will return all 3D images available for artifacts from the selected sites. The data returned contain links to Zip files that contain the .obj and .jpg files for each 3D artifact image. To view and manipulate the 3D images, download the Zip file to your machine. With GLC Player installed on your machine, double-click on the .obj file contained in the downloaded Zip folder. GLC Player will open the .obj and reference .jpg files, allowing the user to view and manipulate the 3D image. In the future, DAACS hopes to make 3D images viewable through the DAACS website.