3D Scanning Gives Archaeology a New Twist

topcon-3d-scanningFor the better part of the past century, archaeologists have studied ruins, artifacts, and statutes. While archaeology has existed for hundreds of years as a way in which people learn about the past, modern times and technology has brought about an increased interest. Along with it comes a history of how archaeologists would record their finds.

Before cameras, archaeologists would sketch what they found. Unfortunately, important details could be missed. After the camera was invented, archaeologists would take pictures and, once again, details could be missed. Now, artifacts can be recorded through 3D scanning and duplicated using a 3D printer.

What the 3D scanner has done for archaeology is solve a problem that has plagued archaeologists for quite some time and that is the fact that 2D images can be difficult to decipher. However, scanning them in 3D and reproducing them that way preserves them forever. Even as the environment takes its toll on the actual artifacts, the 3D reproductions can be preserved through rapid prototyping.

The Scanning Process

To scan an artifact, the scanner is set up near the artifact within 3D scanning range. The scanner can scan the smallest details in excellent resolution so that the smallest of details can be recorded. Fortunately, 3D scanners are easy to transport because they are lightweight and simple to set up.

Once the scanner scans the artifact, the image is saved in IGEs, OBJ, STL, VRML, or another desired format. There are a number of 3D viewers on the market that enable a person to download the data and scale, measure, and analyze the intricate details of the artifact. This saves a lot of money and time for archaeologists because they can take the data from a 3D scanned artifact and study it in the comfort of their home or office. They can view every detail as if the artifact is in front of them. This is enabling 3D scans to be used in classroom environments so that students are able to acquire more information about specific archaeological finds.


Since the first artifact was scanned in the field, it has been found that 3D scanning can be used to preserve statues, artifacts, carvings, and similar finds. Because of the ease of use, portability, and the accuracy when capturing data in challenging environments, 3D scanning has become a preservation method, a teaching tool, and a way in which archaeology has been revolutionized.

Image credit: Topcon.co.jp