University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Archiving Three-Dimensional Archaeology: New Technologies, New Solutions?
Kieron Niven

Last modified: 2011-12-21


The huge growth of 3D data use in archaeology over the last ten years can be seen not only in the increasing availability of services and technologies that allow the collection of such data but also in the way in which such datasets often play a key or uniting role in larger, diverse projects. Frequently such use occurs at different levels from landscape survey all the way down to small-scale object digitisation.

With such a pervasive - and important - role comes the thought of preserving such data for future re-use and re-examination. This is particularly relevant where such data is expensive to acquire and where it is used to monitor or digitally preserve archaeology that is either inaccessible or subject to deterioration.

The ADS has long recognised the issues associated with large 3D datasets and attempts to address such problems can be seen in a number of past and current projects such as the ‘Big Data’ project (2006), VENUS (2009), the new Guides to Good Practice (2009-2010) and ADS current involvement in the CARARE project (looking at 3D object dissemination).

This paper aims to provide a detailed overview of the issues involved in the creation, ingest, preservation and dissemination of 3D datasets from the perspective of a digital archive with particular emphasis on the topics of file size and format, metadata, documentation, standards and copyright. The paper will incorporate specific examples from past and present ADS projects and will highlight the recent work undertaken by the ADS to specify standards and workflows in order to aid the preservation and reuse of 3D datasets.


Close Range Laser Scanning; Close Range Photogrammetry; Archaeology; Guidelines; Good Practice; Standards; Digital Preservation; Digital Archiving