3-D documentation of archaeological field data using free, open-source modelling software

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Three-dimensional modelling is increasingly finding its path into the discipline of archaeology. Besides its use for archaeological reconstructions, 3-D is more recently being applied as a means for documenting archaeological excavations. Valuable research has already been conducted on the usability of a variety of 3-D techniques, ranging from laser scanning to photogrammetry. Developments in the photogrammetric method of Structure from Motion make 3-D modelling more accessible to archaeologists, for one does not need a high degree of expertise and it is relatively inexpensive. This paper aims at discussing the applicability of Structure from Motion to archaeological documentation of field data, using free and open-source software exclusively. As three presented case studies from Greece and Turkey will point out, this method of 3-D documentation is very accurate and relatively low-cost. Moreover, it is an objective way of recording field data, not only useful for documenting archaeological excavations, but also for features found at field surveys. Implementation of the proposed method would have a drastic impact on the daily workflow during and after field work and makes it more time- and cost-efficient. Therefore, it has the potential to change current archaeological field methodology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-119
Number of pages21
JournalPharos - Journal of the Netherlands Institute at Athens
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • 3-D documentation
  • Structure from Motion
  • Photogrammetry
  • Archaeological field methodology
  • Open-source software


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