Interactive visualisation using 3D graphics : an archaeological case study

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The methods of displaying data from archaeological surveys are of considerable importance in representing realistic impressions of archaeological sites that few people are able to visit. In many cases, further study of a site is not possible at the location of the site. This would require that the surveyed data of the site be displayed in such a way as to be accurate and realistic as well as including interactive tools, enabling further studies. Traditional displays of archaeological data have been either in textual form or in the conventional hardcopy form of maps and drawings. With the advent of computers and computer graphics alternative methods of displaying the data have become possible. 3D graphics have become an important method of displaying archaeological data. In 1995 and 1996 the Department of Geomatics at the University of Cape Town participated in the survey of the 3.6 million year old hominid footprints in Tanzania. The survey was required for the documentation and study of the footprints. In order to facilitate this in 3D graphics, software packages that allowed user interactive tools to be included in the display had to be investigated. Methods of displaying the data also had to be investigated. Java3D was selected to create the 3D models and user interactive tools that included measurement tools, gradient tools and profile tools. These tools were created for the Laetoli footprints but were applicable in other archaeological displays as well.

Bibliography: leaves 82-84.