Research Spotlight: Fellows Experiment with Digital Modeling at the Agora
Katie and Chavdar operate the 3D scanner
Stamps on ancient ceramic containers have been documented and studied for decades through traditional methods, such as drawings, paper rubbings and photography. Chavdar Tzochev and Katie Simon are exploring the possibility of applying a new technology, which may leave the traditional means in the past. Chavdar is a Kress Publication Fellow and a senior associate member at ASCSA; he is studying the Agora‚Äôs collection of stamped amphora handles from the island of Thasos (4th-2nd century BC). After considerable study and employing the traditional tools of archaeological recording Chavdar asked Katie Simon to collaborate with him on a trial project to create three-dimensional models of the stamped amphora handles. Katie works at the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas and is participating in several projects involving members of the American School. She traveled to Athens with scanning equipment acquired with support from NSF Award EPS 0918970. Digital models created with three-dimensional scanners provide a number of methods for examination of the stamps, in ways that are difficult or impossible with the naked eye or photographic methods. In contrast to, 2-dimensional images of photography, which are less precise due to variable factors, such as light, perspective and curvature of the stamped surface, a 3-D model represents an accurate virtual copy of the object. It allows the relief surface of the stamp to be cross-sectioned, measured or viewed at any desired viewing angle using a range of dynamic artificial lighting options. By processing the collected data with three-dimensional point cloud and object-based image analysis software Chavdar and Katie are hoping to automate the identification and classification of the stamps. Left: traditional color image (digital) of stamped amphora handle, and (right) the same stamp but shot with a 3-D scanner.