Volume 3, Article 1
ARCHEOLOGICAL 3D MAPPING: THE STRUCTURE FROM MOTION REVOLUTION
Mark D. Willis1, Charles W. Koenig2*, Stephen L. Black2, and Amanda M. Castañeda2
Mapping is a critical aspect of systematic documentation no matter where archaeologists work. From hand-drawn maps of excavation units to maps created with Total Data Stations or LiDAR scanning, today’s archaeologists have a suite of mapping techniques and technologies to choose from when documenting a site. Typically, spectacular sites often receive high resolution mapping, whereas everyday sites rarely do. Recently, however, a revolutionary technology and technique has been created that can produce highly accurate and precise three-dimensional maps and orthophotos of archaeological sites, features, and profiles at a fraction of the cost and time of LiDAR and intensive TDS mapping: Structure from Motion (SfM). SfM is a new digital photography processing technique for capturing highly detailed, three-dimensional (3D) data from almost any surface using digital cameras. This article introduces the various platforms SfM photographs can be collected from (UAV, kites, balloons, poles, and groundbased) and provides examples of different types of data SfM can provide. The Structure from Motion Revolution is unfolding across the globe at a rapid pace, and we encourage archaeologists to take advantage of this new recording method.
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