School Social Science, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia
Department of Anthropology, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137, USA
Manu Iri – Rapa Nui Heritage Guardians; Terevaka Archaeological Outreach; Ka’Ara Environmental Conscience; Mahinatur, Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile
3D scanning is employed in many fields including the medical sciences, engineering, and in product manufacture. In archaeology, 3D documentation has proven a very relevant technology as it provides accessible 3D records of sites, features, artefacts, and valuable museum collections that are infrequently viewed by the public sector. Plus, point clouds files from scanning can be used in 3D printing, producing detailed replicas that can be used for conservation management, in educational contexts, and for research purposes.
Thanks to Associate Professor Chris Clarkson, I travelled to Tahiti and Rapa Nui with a portable 3D scanner to register Polynesian adzes and Rapa Nui archaeological material. Presently, we are using a ScanStudio HD 3D scanner along with ScanStudio desktop software. The 3D scanner itself is very small, fitting into most carry-on luggage, opening the door to many scanning, documentation, and research opportunities. The scanner is synched to the ScanStudio computer software and a rotating object platform, where artefacts are moved in a 360 degree manner, taking up to 16 individual scans per object. Additional single panel and/or bracketed triple scans add detail to proximal and distal ends of artefacts that, at times, are difficult for the scanner’s linear lasers to detect. As the ScanStudio software is very user-friendly, it affords operators the ability to clean, merge, and patch scans creating high-definition 3D images and file outputs.
A special thank you to the Musée de Tahiti et des Îles, director Théano Jaillet and collection manager Taha Hiquily, who brought me into the museum’s holdings to choose a variety of adzes from Tahiti, the Marquesas, the Australs, and Mangareva. Having the opportunity to view curated collections is rewarding alone, as it gives the opportunity to view the quantity, quality, and diversity of Polynesian material culture that exists throughout the world. Along with 3D scanning of adzes, scaled photos and measurements were taken including mid-shape (triangular, quadrangle), maximum and minimum length, width and breadth, weight, and the percentages of cortex, flaking, and polished areas on adzes.
On Rapa Nui, I am working with the Museo Antropológico P. Sebastián Englert, director Paula Valenzuela, and collection manager Francisco Torres to scan a variety of adzes archaeologically recovered from several areas of the island. I am also 3D scanning archaeological pieces found in the museum’s holdings and at basalt quarry, source, and workshop sites that I am currently researching for my geochemical Ph.D. project. Selected archaeological pieces exhibit multiple stages in the operational sequence of Rapa Nui adze production including basalt boulders, debitage, cores, blanks, preforms, and unfinished and polished finished adzes.
3D images, photos, and attribute data from adzes from the Society Islands along with Rapa Nui will be used with scanning already completed from archaeological material from Hawaii and New Zealand to create a larger 3D database of Polynesian adzes and to compare and contrast statistical variables ScanStudio can quantify using the results from 3D scans. With this information, we can highlight patterns in the technological production of adzes including their reduction sequences.
The value of 3D scanning is very evident. It is a portable technology that can quickly scan and register archaeological artefacts and sites for on-going research, conservation purposes, and in educational contexts. Point cloud files can also be used in 3D printing, for statistical assessment, and for the comparative study of archaeological material culture. Together with traditional analyses, 3D scanning brings the advanced technology of today, to the tools of (pre)history.