Cultural Heritage Data Acquisition and Modeling Demonstration

March 14, 2018

The legacy of slavery is written into the fabric of cultural heritage spaces and documentary record, but it is not always easily seen or studied. Over the past decade or so, laser scanning and photogrammetry have emerged as practical additions to the traditional archaeological techniques of excavation, analysis and modeling, as well as necessary enhancements to historiological methods that study the documentary record. Together, these methods lay foundations for understanding this fabric, and enable more effective and immersive presentations of this legacy to the public, students, and scholars.

As part of the Interpreting and Representing Slavery and its Legacies in Museums and Sites conference, There will be several demonstrations of laser scanning and photogrammetry techniques for collecting and modeling data from cultural heritage and archeological sites. Information stations will be available, with faculty and technologists, to help visitors explore the possibilities and findings of these tools and methods.

The DAACS Research Consortium is bringing together quantitative data from over eighty sites in the early-modern Atlantic World in order to advance our understanding of the experience of enslaved people in the Chesapeake, the Carolinas, and the Caribbean. Frazer Neiman, the Director of Archaeology at Monticello, and Lynsay Bates, DAACS Archaeological Analyst, will demonstrate how DAACS-based analysis provides the foundation for pubic interpretation at Monticello. Elizabeth Chew, Vice President of Montpelier’s Museum Program Office, will also discuss the extensive digital work in presenting the legacy of slavery at Montpelier.

The University of Virginia Library has cultivated expertise with several forms of laser scanning of artifacts, architectural structures and landscapes. Will Rourk and Arin Bennett, the Information Visualization Specialist and 3D Visualization Specialist of the Scholars’ Lab, will demonstrate several varieties and applications of laser scanning technologies.

IATH has developed expertise with photogrammetry as an allied technique for acquiring 3D data on artifacts, architectural structures and landscapes. System Adminstrator Shayne Brandon and Multimedia Developer Lauren Massari will discuss the requirements and affordances for effective photogrammetry and for computational resources as provided by the Advanced Research Computing Services (ARCS) group at UVa for processing large image sets.

These 3D data acquisition techniques require further processing and analysis to produce CAD models and effective datasets for the presentation of the artifacts, structures and landscapes. Will Rourk, Arin Bennett, Shayne Brandon and Lauren Massari will also discuss the overall process by way of the results from several projects, including Jefferson’s University: the Early Life (JUEL), a project delving into the rich documentary records and extant buildings of UVa. JUEL draws on these techniques to build models that are effective in illuminating the day-to-day activities at UVa in its first 50 years, and, showing how the lives of enslaved individuals were woven into the daily life of students and faculty, bringing their legacy to light.

Pompeii, a well-studied and famous site, continues to provide new information about daily life and society in an ancient Roman city. Claire Weiss, PhD candidate in the McIntire Department of Art, is using models derived from photogrammetry to study sidewalks as indicators of social interactions in classical Rome. The derived model will be shown and discussed by Shayne Brandon and Lauren Massari.