Communicating in Three Dimensions: Questions of Audience and Reuse in 3D Excavation Documentation Practice




Rabinowitz, Adam

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After excavating the Praedia of Iulia Felix at Pompeii in 1755, architect Karl Weber published the building with an axionometric illustration that showed the remains in three-dimensional perspective. In doing so, Weber communicated additional information about the form of the building in a manner that was both visually accessible to a lay audience and sufficiently “scientific” for a scholarly one. By contrast, digital 3D documentation methods in current archaeological practice can reinforce a division between “scientific” models intended for internal consumption by the project that produces them, and external communication in the form of lower-quality online digital displays. Using recent fieldwork at the Greek colonial site of Histria in Romania as a case-study, this paper explores the space between high-resolution contextualized 3D documentation used only by an internal audience and down-scaled, decontextualized 3D content designed for public consumption. In particular, it explores whether measurable 3D models derived from photogrammetric capture are useful in communicating excavation results to non-specialists – and if so, in what ways. It presents several scenarios for the role of high-quality 3D documentation in both formal and informal scholarly communication and discusses the potential for the reuse of such documentation to answer new research questions.


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