Reuse scenario

Archaeological 3D Content

Enhance visitor experience of archaeological monuments and value of 3D.

5Dculture will develop reuse scenarios for archaeological 3D content to explore how it enhances visitors’ experience of archaeological monuments and evaluate the creation of different 3D surrogates and the value these have for different sectors (tourism, education, gaming, the arts, conservation and heritage management). By utilising 3D technology in archaeological heritage the project will digitally reconstruct archaeological sites, artefacts, and structures, offering researchers and archaeologists a virtual platform for analysis, interpretation, and preservation. This approach opens up new avenues for understanding and studying our collective past while ensuring the long-term conservation of valuable archaeological treasures.
Archaeological 3D content from the Brú na Bóinne World Hertiage site in Ireland and from the Iberian culture near Jaén, Spain, are the use-cases to demonstrate and explore the re-use of 3D content.They will be explained in more detail below.
In this project, approximately 130 existing 3D models in Europeana will be enhanced and a number of new ones added.

Τhe UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne

Within the 5D Culture project, one of the archaeological case studies focuses upon the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne, a significant archaeological and historical site in Ireland. It is renowned for its Neolithic burial mounds, including Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, which date back over 5,000 years. These sites are some of the world's oldest and most well-preserved megalithic structures and highlight the advanced engineering and architectural skills of Neolithic populations. Newgrange, in particular is famous for its winter solstice phenomenon when on the shortest day of the year, sunlight enters the passage tomb and illuminates its inner chamber.
The site receives around 250,000 visitors each year. Several of the passages within this site are off limits for the public due to conservation and health and safety issues, so the provision of virtual access through the use of 3D models is extremely valuable to understand and appreciate these globally significant sites.
Megalithic art at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth consists of intricate carvings, primarily on the kerbstones that encircle the mounds and within the passageways. These carvings feature geometric shapes, spirals, concentric circles, and other symbols. The meaning of these symbols is still debated, but they likely held deep cultural and possibly religious significance potentially being used for storytelling or community rituals. The art showcases the advanced craftsmanship of Neolithic peoples with the precision and detail in the carvings are impressive and demonstrate a high level of skill in working with Neolithic tools (Figure 1).

Figure 1. 3D model of the Entrance Stone at Newgrange, approximately 3m in length. Originally recorded in 2012 as part of the 3D-ICONS Project with the Artec Eva handheld scanner.

Improving quality

Over the past decade as part of previous EU funded projects (3D-ICONS) or through direct support for the National Monuments Service in Ireland, the Discovery Programme has employed a range of techniques and methods to digitally document in 3D many of these important monuments and artworks at Brú na Bóinne (Figure 2). Since their original capture, both recording, modelling and presentation technology has improved significantly. Within the 5D Culture project several areas of quality improvement is being implemented including:
  • Reprocessing of legacy data to achieve increased model resolution and accuracy
  • Production of higher resolution textures (8k & 16K) based on photogrammetric and procedurally generated processes have for different sectors (tourism, education, gaming, the arts, conservation and heritage management)
  • Improvement in photo texturing through delighting and cross polarisation techniques
  • Improving the metadata and paradata associated with each model
Where applicable, additional digital documentation will be achieved through the 3D capture of artefacts associated with the monuments and of comparable passage grave sites at Loughcrew and Fourknocks.

Figure 2. Surveyors for the Discovery Programme digitally recording one of the interior chambers at Knowth using a Faro terrestrial laser scanner.

Exploring Reuse

With the availability of 3D content of considerable cultural significance, three use cases are being explored to enable the most efficient and effective use of this resource. These include:
  • Tourism: 3D models play a pivotal role in cultural tourism by enabling visitors to engage with immersive and interactive experiences that bring historical and cultural sites to life. These models enhance the educational and emotional impact of tourism, offering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich heritage and significance of the destinations visited.
  • Creative Arts: 3D cultural heritage models are invaluable assets in the creative arts sector as they provide artists, filmmakers, and designers with highly detailed references for accurately recreating historical settings and artifacts in their projects. These models empower creators to instil their works with authenticity, fostering a deeper connection between audiences and the cultural heritage being depicted.
  • Conservation: 3D cultural heritage models serve as critical tools in the conservation sector, aiding experts in the meticulous preservation of fragile archaeological artifacts and monuments. These models enable precise documentation and analysis, helping conservation exerts make informed decisions and develop effective strategies to safeguard our cultural heritage for future generations.

Iberian Culture Unveiled through 3D Models

Embark on a captivating journey into the rich tapestry of Iberian culture with this use-case scenario led by the University Research Institute for Iberian Archaeology at the University of Jaén, Spain. Delving into the vibrant history of the Iberians, a prominent group inhabiting the southern and eastern regions of the Iberian Peninsula during the Iron Age (6th-1st century BC), this project promises an immersive exploration.
The focal point of this endeavour is a carefully curated collection of 3D models representing archaeological objects tied to the Iberian culture. These models are not just artifacts; they serve as educational tools spanning various levels—primary, secondary, and university education. What makes this initiative even more remarkable is its commitment to inclusivity, catering to individuals with visual impairments.
In refining and enhancing these 3D models, our goal is to create a diverse, inclusive, and engaging experience for users. By leveraging cutting-edge ICT technologies, we aim to present aspects of Iberian life, including religion, ritual, death, society, gender, clothing, and daily life, in a novel and entertaining manner.
Henk Alkemade, CARARE's Deputy Operations Manager, expresses the vision:
"The models, currently accessible on Europeana in pdf format, will undergo a transformation into more user-friendly formats. Through metadata enrichment and reintegration into Europeana, we strive to make them more discoverable, accessible, interoperable, and retrievable."

Iberian 3D Models Tailored for Students

Our 3D models cater to a diverse audience, ranging from primary school children to university students:
  • For primary education, engaging workshops for children aged 6-10 providing a hands-on experience during events like the European Researchers' Night and the School of Science. See: Workshop: Iberian ex-votos: explore the sacred world of Iltir and Neitin
  • Secondary education students (14-16 years old) can participate in workshops held during Science Week and Meetings-UJA, organized by the University of Jaén. See: Iberian 3D models in the Science Week 2023
  • University-level students (18-21 years old) in disciplines such as Archaeology, History, and Computer Science can benefit from lectures, seminars, and practical sessions.

Figure 3. Educational events using Iberian 3D models. Left: workshop with children (6-10 years old). Right: workshop with secondary school students (14-16 years old) (IUIAI-UJA)

These educational events aim to highlight various dimensions through 3D models, covering history with iconographic analysis, methodology explaining the 3D modeling process, conservation emphasizing the effectiveness of 3D models, and dissemination stressing the role of 3D models in understanding the past and promoting social inclusivity.

Figure 4. Left: 3D model of Iberian ex-voto printed using bronze filament. Right: Tridimensional puzzle of an Iberian sculpture representing a wolf (IUIAI-UJA)

Empowering Through Inclusivity: Iberian 3D Models for People with Visual Impairments

In a groundbreaking initiative, our second field of action centers on making Iberian heritage accessible to people with visual impairments. Collaborating with the Iberian Museum of Jaén, we are developing activities that utilize 3D models to disseminate Iberian heritage in a tactile and auditory manner.
The endeavor to enhance access to Cultural Heritage for groups with varying degrees of disability, including individuals with visual impairments, has transcended individual and national boundaries. In 2021, the European Union unveiled the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, signaling a commitment to substantial improvements in the lives of individuals with disabilities. This strategy envisions empowering them to actively contribute to an inclusive, green, and digital economy, reinforcing the core values of the EU.
Emphasizing education and culture as fundamental rights, the strategy urges Member States to champion the arts of persons with disabilities. It calls for increased visibility through exhibitions and performances and advocates for the accessibility of art collections and museums. Notably, the role of 3D models in disseminating archaeological heritage among people with visual impairments is underscored. Museums are evolving by creating inclusive spaces, organizing exhibitions tailored to this user group, and incorporating spatial accessibility, tactile models, 3D printed replicas, braille texts, and explanatory audio files (Figure 5 & 6).

Figure 5. Left: models of Iberian pottery (Archaeological and History Museum of Elche, Spain). Centre: model of the Iberian sculpture Lady of Elche (ONCE Typhlological Museum, Madrid, Spain). Right: model of Greek krater (Museum of Villajollosa, Spain)

Figure 6. Basic schema in museums with rooms for people with visual impairments (IUIAI-UJA/5DCulture)

Looking through the lens of providing valuable historical information to individuals with visual impairments, the 3D models, along with accompanying text and sound files, aim to convey basic knowledge about object types, iconography, and the meanings behind scenes depicted in archaeological material (Figure 7). This holistic approach, exemplified by projects like the Iberians in the 5DCulture project, seeks to offer insights into aspects such as way of life, landscape perception, gender relations, religion, and ritual.

Figure 7. 3D model of an Iberian pottery fragment with geometric embossed decoration (IUIAI-UJA/5DCulture)

From a technical standpoint, 3D printing is far from a simple process. Careful consideration of settings, including size, orientation, filament type, bed levelling, nozzle diameter and temperature, layer height, adhesion assistants, supports, speed of cooling fan, infill density, shell thickness and more, is essential to strike the right balance between time and model quality (Figure 8).
For individuals with visual impairments, controlling the size and scale of the model is crucial for a tactile experience. Choosing the right filament type to achieve an optimal roughness/smoothness level for shape perception is vital. Addressing challenges like marks left by supports when separated from the model, a second filament, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), could be utilised. After the 3D print is complete, the PVA supports dissolve in water, ensuring a seamless and accessible final product.

Figure 8. Printing of the 3D model of the Iberian sculpture grifomaquia using PLA filament and at a scale of 15% (Height: 13.5 cm, Width: 12 cm, Thickness: 9 cm) (IUIAI-UJA/5DCulture)

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