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Digitisation of objects from the tomb

April 22, 2013

When archaeologists found Monte Michele number 5 tomb, in the 80’s, it contained a great number of objects that formed the grave goods of the four people entombed in it. Today all these objects are preserved in the Villa Giulia Museum in Rome.

Grave goods in the main room of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

Grave goods in the main room of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

Villa Giulia Museum: the showcase containing Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

Villa Giulia Museum: the showcase containing Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

The most important objects have been digitised in order to create the virtual reality application and present them to the public together with the explanation of their use and meaning.

The state of preservation of the objects varies significantly and some of them are highly fragile. For this reason the digitisation made by CNR-ITABC researchers was not easy, they had to follow a different approach for every object. In this post we show you how they did it.

When an object was strong enough to be taken from the showcase, it was digitised using photogrammetry.

Digitization procedure: the object on the turning table is photographed from different angles (photo: CNR-ITABC)

Digitization procedure: the object on the turning table is photographed from different angles (photo: CNR-ITABC)

It was put on a turning table (Seitz Roundshot VR Drive) against a neutral background. To acquire the images, CNR researchers used a specific set of lights (a lamp with LED lights and a very soft flash) in order to avoid shadows.

Roundshot VR Drive

Roundshot VR Drive

The rotation angle of the turning table was set to 10 degrees so that 36 images of the object were taken for a complete rotation. The process was repeated three times with different tilt angles of the camera respect to the object in order to have a very detailed model and a high-resolution texture.

The 3D model obtained with the photogrammetry technique has a very high number of polygons. This is very important when the 3D model needs to be used to increase the understanding of the physical object.

This is the case with an ivory truncated-cone object: archaeologists have not a clear idea of what kind of object it belongs to and which was its function, but it was finely engraved with a series of winged sphinxes. Due to the poor condition of the object and the artificial lights of the showcase, it is very difficult to appreciate its decoration. On the contrary the 3D model, thanks to its adjustable light, clearly shows the shape of sphinxes.

Digitization of the ivory truncated-cone object: process and result (image: CNR-ITABC)

Digitisation of the ivory truncated-cone object: process and result (image: CNR-ITABC)

There were other objects that did not need to be shown in such a detailed way. In these cases CNR researchers used the same technology to digitise them, but processed the data in a different way.

For some of the vases, for example, they used few images acquired all around the object to have a simple but geometrically correct 3D model; then this was used as a guideline to manually model a new 3D object with a lower number of polygons.

Low-polygons digitization process (Image: CNR-ITABC)

Low-polygons digitization process (Image: CNR-ITABC)

This technique was used to create the dummy 3D models showing the position of the objects in the original stratigraphy.

Rough models showing the position of the objects in the original stratigraphy (image: CNR-ITABC)

Dummy models showing the position of the objects in the original stratigraphy (image: CNR-ITABC)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

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