Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I just come back from a very short archaeological mission in Cencelle (figure 1), where  together with  Stefan Lindgren and Doriana De Padova we joined the excavation team leaded by the Prof. Francesca Romana Stasolla, and her collaborators: Dr. Sergio Del Ferro, Dr. Lorenzo De Lellis and Dr. Lara Tonizzo Feligioni. 
Figure 1 Archaeological excavation of Cencelle, Tarquinia
Cencelle is a middle age town founded by Leone IV during the IX century with the aim to provide a safe refugee to the inhabitants of Centumcelle (Civitavecchia). 
Centumcelle  was an ancient  town  along the costs few miles north of Rome, which in that period was constantly under the attack of the Saracens.  Cencelle is  amazing, the landscape is beautiful and the site incredibly rich. 
The excavation is under the scientific direction of the University of Rome "La Sapienza", that together with l'École française di Roma, started the excavation in the 1994.  Goals during our short permanence there were: the documentation of structures no more under archaeological investigations using the laser scanner, the use of Image based modeling techniques for the documentation of the ongoing excavation (cemetery), the use of the GPS to map the site.

Our work was mainly focused on finding a work methodology  that could have been  easily integrated with the current system of documentation in use in Cencelle.
As previously explained, we decided to employ the Laser only for the structures that were no more under investigation, in fact, despite the efficiency of the scanner in providing resolute, accurate and precise 3D models, the time  required for the  data post processing would have been not sustainable.
Figure 2 Map site realized using the RTK GPS

Despite some problem with the vegetation... in two days we handled to finish the work with the scanner acquiring material that will be used in the coming months  by Doriana De Padova to highlight aspects of these structures not jet studied before.  At the same time, with the help of the students we started the documentation campaign of the ongoing excavation of the cemetery in order to provide material that (we hope) will help the excavation team to have a better view of the complicated relations between the different graves currently under investigation.

Detail of the cemetery, 3D model of one of the burials processed in Photoscan and visualized inMeshLab
Once again the use of this technique have been incredibly efficient, already the first day it was possible to produce dense and detailed models able to provide an extraordinary view of the spacial relations between the different features of the area under investigation.
Differently from a normal  raster images or vector file, the use of 3D models provide an impressive view of the ongoing situation that can provide different perspectives, already  during the excavation campaign or even after the end of the investigation. The GPS has been used to produce a quick description of the topography of the site, moreover this instrument allowed to calculate the position of Control points that will be used to geo-reference the 3d models coming from the different technologies employed during this archaeological campaign.

3D model of the cemetery processed using  Photoscan and visualized in MeshLab

3D model of the cemetery processed using Photoscan and visualized in MeshLab

3D model of the cemetery processed using  Photoscan and visualized in MeshLab