3D Modelling in Archaeology

I am sure that most of you have seen some archaeology documentaries where, while explaining what the use of a certain discovery was, a 3D model of the discovery is shown. Sometimes a simulation of the ancient people using the building or artefact is also generated and shown to the public in order to enrich the explanation.

I recently found the website of a company that deals with all the different ways to model archaeological artefacts, buildings and situations. They are actually quite awesome and I highly recommend you check their website: Digital Archaeology. They have a large list of clients including museums, research institutions, TV channels and movie theatres all over the world.

There is also a group of Archaeologists and Historians who offer 3D modelling services. You can view their website here.


Additionally, here are some articles (mostly research articles) on 3D modelling in archaeology:


Here is some software that could be used to generate 3D models of archaeological data:

  • PhotoModeler: Provides image-based modelling as well as 3D modelling capabilities
  • AutoCAD: Computer Aided Design software tool.
  • OpenSim (Free): Multi-user 3D application server. This is what we used in the Virtual Environments course that I took in my Honours year. It allows you to create a virtual environment, and therefore, users can interact with objects within this environment. Think of it as a local version of Second Life. I actually modelled some real Mayan pyramids for my project 🙂
  • Google Sketchup (Free): This is Google’s design software which allows you to create various types of 3D models such as products or buildings. I used this software to design the physical interface for my main 3rd year project and highly recommend it.
  • Luminion: This is a 3D visualisation tool. Import 3D models, change scenery, etc.
  • ArcGIS 3D Analyst: Software to view archaeological GIS data in three dimensions.
  • Blender: 3D software recommended by a Multimedia graduate.
  • List of more free 3D modelling applications: There are so many applications that could be used to make 3D models. This is a list of 25 more applications.


On the news side, a 3D model of the USS Hatteras shipwreck found in the Gulf of Mexico was released not too long ago. What makes this model quite special is that it created using sonar mapping rather than 3D modelling software such as AutoCAD. Read some more on this here and check out the video here.


6 comments on “3D Modelling in Archaeology

  1. […] could easily resurrect other ancient archaeological wonders by re-imagining them in 3D space. What did the Sphinx look like before it had its nose blown to […]

  2. […] 3D Modelling In Archaeology […]

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