University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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QueryArch3D: A 3D WebGIS System linking 3D Visualizations to Archaeological Data
Jennifer von Schwerin, Heather Richards-Rissetto, Giorgio Agugiaro, Fabio Remondino, Gabrio Girardi

Last modified: 2012-02-22


This poster presents a new 3D WebGIS System—called QueryArch3D— that allows archaeologists to search and query segmented 3D models that are linked to a spatial database via a virtual reality landscape—in this case the ancient Maya city and UNESCO World Heritage site of Copan, Honduras. In 2009, the MayaArch3D Project ( was begun to explore the possibilities of integrating GIS and 3D digital tools for research on ancient architecture and landscapes.  This interdisciplinary, international project brings together art historians, archaeologists, and cultural resource managers with experts in remote sensing, photogrammetry, 3D modeling, and virtual reality.  Some of the questions that we seek to address using the QueryArch3D tool include: What are the research possibilities for 3D models linked to underlying archaeological data?  How can we store and curate 3D models for the future? How can we create an online resource for researchers of Maya architecture where they can compare and study geo-referenced 3D models and attribute data? How can we perform quantitative and qualitative comparisons with other Maya structures and analyze architecture in larger spatial and temporal contexts? 


Like traditional databases, this tool can curate, query, and compare 2D digital objects (such as drawings, maps, diagrams, text, photographs, and videos). However, what is unique and technologically cutting-edge is that QueryArch3D enables users to 1) integrate and edit 2D and 3D data of multiple resolutions, 2) to perform attribute and spatial queries of archaeological data, and 3) to visualize, compare and analyze 3D buildings and artifacts—all in a single online, navigable virtual reality landscape. Developed in collaboration with Dr. Giorgio Agugiaro and Dr. Fabio Remondino at the Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK) in Trento, Italy, the QueryArch3D tool links both low resolution models and high resolution reality-based and hybrid models to an open source spatial database (PostgreSQL with PostGIS) via a virtual reality environment that runs on the Unity 3 game engine. The poster summarizes the plans that the project has for its next stage of development, and concludes with a critical assessment of the research possibilities that QueryArch3D can offer archaeologists in terms of organizing, searching, and visualizing data, and identifying patterns over space and time.


3D WebGIS; 3D Modelling; GIS, Virtual Reality; Data Integration