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Mesh is more : using all geometric dimensions for the archaeological analysis and interpretative mapping of 3D surfaces

Geert Verhoeven (UGent)
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Abstract
In various disciplines, particularly those that utilise techniques developed in the geosciences, the display, analysis and interpretation of three-dimensional (3D) data is very important. This is also the case in archaeology. Irrespective of a site- or landscape-centred point of focus, archaeology deals with very complex surfaces and always examines traces of past human presence in three geometrical dimensions. Visualising these detailed geometric environments is not that much of an issue anymore; however, interactively interpreting and mapping them is still problematic. Despite the steady increase in technologies to create 3D models, there is still a serious lack of tools that allow for easy interaction with these models in a metrical and coordinate system-aware environment. As a result, most—if not all—interpretation workflows will first downscale 3D data to two-and-a-half-dimensional (2.5D) or 2D data sets, thus effectively discarding up to one geometrical dimension. To enable or enhance the perception of topographic characteristics in these geometrically compromised datasets, various visualisation techniques have been developed to artificially restore and enhance the data that was initially discarded. While these techniques work very well to enhance the remaining pertinent features present in such data sets, data downscaling can nevertheless irrevocably eliminate significant amounts of important archaeological information. Therefore, this paper outlines a new processing and interpretation pipeline for complex archaeological 3D surfaces that do not rely on downscaling of data, while also discussing several 3D-related concepts and issues along the way. More specifically, this article focusses on the generation of intelligently decimated, two-manifold triangular meshes and the subsequent geo-referenced 3D interpretative mapping of these surfaces. Furthermore, all applications can be considered low- and even no-cost, making this a readily implemented processing and interpretation workflow. Additionally, all software packages are easy to learn and flexible enough for implementation in any existing mixed software pipeline.
Keywords
3D, 3D interpretation, CG (Computer Graphics), Computer vision, Decimation, GIS (Geographic(al) Information System), IBM (Image-Based Modelling), Italy, Mesh, Monte Primo, MVS (Multi View Stereo), Point cloud, PVS, Relief visualisation, Rhinoceros, SfM (Structure from Motion)

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Verhoeven, Geert. 2017. “Mesh Is More : Using All Geometric Dimensions for the Archaeological Analysis and Interpretative Mapping of 3D Surfaces.” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory  24 (4): 999–1033.
APA
Verhoeven, Geert. (2017). Mesh is more : using all geometric dimensions for the archaeological analysis and interpretative mapping of 3D surfaces. JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL METHOD AND THEORY  , 24(4), 999–1033.
Vancouver
1.
Verhoeven G. Mesh is more : using all geometric dimensions for the archaeological analysis and interpretative mapping of 3D surfaces. JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL METHOD AND THEORY  . Springer Nature; 2017;24(4):999–1033.
MLA
Verhoeven, Geert. “Mesh Is More : Using All Geometric Dimensions for the Archaeological Analysis and Interpretative Mapping of 3D Surfaces.” JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL METHOD AND THEORY  24.4 (2017): 999–1033. Print.
@article{8535858,
  abstract     = {In various disciplines, particularly those that utilise techniques developed in the geosciences, the display, analysis and interpretation of three-dimensional (3D) data is very important. This is also the case in archaeology. Irrespective of a site- or landscape-centred point of focus, archaeology deals with very complex surfaces and always examines traces of past human presence in three geometrical dimensions. Visualising these detailed geometric environments is not that much of an issue anymore; however, interactively interpreting and mapping them is still problematic. Despite the steady increase in technologies to create 3D models, there is still a serious lack of tools that allow for easy interaction with these models in a metrical and coordinate system-aware environment. As a result, most---if not all---interpretation workflows will first downscale 3D data to two-and-a-half-dimensional (2.5D) or 2D data sets, thus effectively discarding up to one geometrical dimension. To enable or enhance the perception of topographic characteristics in these geometrically compromised datasets, various visualisation techniques have been developed to artificially restore and enhance the data that was initially discarded. While these techniques work very well to enhance the remaining pertinent features present in such data sets, data downscaling can nevertheless irrevocably eliminate significant amounts of important archaeological information. Therefore, this paper outlines a new processing and interpretation pipeline for complex archaeological 3D surfaces that do not rely on downscaling of data, while also discussing several 3D-related concepts and issues along the way. More specifically, this article focusses on the generation of intelligently decimated, two-manifold triangular meshes and the subsequent geo-referenced 3D interpretative mapping of these surfaces. Furthermore, all applications can be considered low- and even no-cost, making this a readily implemented processing and interpretation workflow. Additionally, all software packages are easy to learn and flexible enough for implementation in any existing mixed software pipeline.},
  author       = {Verhoeven, Geert},
  issn         = {1072-5369},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL METHOD AND THEORY                                        },
  keyword      = {3D,3D interpretation,CG (Computer Graphics),Computer vision,Decimation,GIS (Geographic(al) Information System),IBM (Image-Based Modelling),Italy,Mesh,Monte Primo,MVS (Multi View Stereo),Point cloud,PVS,Relief visualisation,Rhinoceros,SfM (Structure from Motion)},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {999--1033},
  publisher    = {Springer Nature},
  title        = {Mesh is more : using all geometric dimensions for the archaeological analysis and interpretative mapping of 3D surfaces},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10816-016-9305-z},
  volume       = {24},
  year         = {2017},
}

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