University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Virtual Reconstruction of a Maya Temple Using Total Station and Photo Modelling
Cornelis Stal

Last modified: 2012-01-02


Geomatics plays an increasing role in the management of cultural heritage and archaeological sites. Although the use of total station measurements or digital imagery are well known techniques for the generation of 2D archaeological maps, the combined use of both techniques are more and more applied for 3D reconstructions in heritage management applications. Especially the recent introduction of 'Structure from Motion', whether or not supported by a geometric reference framework, plays an important role in this development. In the presented research, the virtual reconstruction of a Maya Temple in Calakmul (Mexico) is discussed. The current site is a part of a twenty-five square kilometre prehispanic Mayan metropolis and the site was the cultural and political centre of the ancient central Petén region. The scientific importance of this site is recognized by UNESCO in 2002, when the area became World Heritage. In order to support the management and preservation of the objects and structures on the site, the use of high quality maps and 3D models is indispensable. Therefore, a four week field campaign was organised in 2010, as part of the Calakmul 4D GIS-project (in collaboration with INAH, UNESCO and with the support of the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office). During this campaign, the main acropolis was measured by total station to generate a 3D framework of the shape of the temple. Besides, a large number of images were taken, in order to generate photorealistic 3D models using Structure from Motion. This research involves the acquisition and processing of these topographic and imagery data, as well as an analysis of the geometric quality of the models. Furthermore, a discussion will be presented on the amelioration of the geometric quality and on the improvement of the acquisition process of the data. Especially the latter is very important for a profound knowledge of correct image acquisition for 3D modelling.


Geomatics; Virtual Reality; 3D Modelling; Total Station; Structure from Motion