Last week, we ventured to the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) to photograph a series of effigy vessels, and to test a variety of different settings on our new 3D scanner. We are working on a grant proposal that would fund the documentation (both 2D and 3D) of all intact/reconstructed Caddo vessels in the TARL collections in an effort to make them accessible to a global audience (comparative collection), which would also be included in our ongoing morphometric analyses of Caddo ceramics and our digital repository. Importantly, the Caddo Nation has expressed their support of this non-destructive/non-invasive proposal, and we are hopeful that the funding agency will find our proposal as promising as we do.



To ensure that the new scanner could capture the level of detail that we want for this project, we set out to test it using a variety of different settings in the software (different numbers of scans, divisions, texture detail, etc.). The point of this little exercise was to ensure that the detail and point cloud density that we are achieving with our mid-range scanner (ZScanner 700CX) can be replicated with our smaller scanner (NextEngineHD). While it took some tweaking (and most of the day), we did find a way to produce point clouds and texture data for these small ceramics that are comparable to what we are gathering from the larger ceramics.



In this test, we found that when scanning small vessels with complex geometry, it was necessary to make three scans with 10 divisions. For each scan, we maxed out the memory capacity of our machines to ensure that we were collecting as dense of a point cloud as possible (this ensures that finely engraved lines and other decorative elements show up in the scan). The resulting scan data were comparable to what we are achieving with our mid-range scanner, and the process is automated; meaning that we will be able to scan multiple vessels–one with the small scanner, one with the mid-range scanner–at once.



As with all of our scans from Caddo NAGPRA/burial contexts, the texture (color) file has been removed as mandated by the Caddo Nation. We thank the Caddo Nation and TARL for their support of our proposal and access to these important collections of ceramics.


Written by zselden

Selden (PhD, Texas A&M University, 2013) is a US Marine Corps veteran, cyclist, kayaker, backpacker, hiker, climber, fisherman and general all-around outdoor enthusiast. His research is focused at the confluence of archaeological methods and digital technology, and he is particularly interested in the application of 3D technologies to archaeological problems, geometric morphometrics, network analyses, predictive modeling, archaeological theory, and archaeological science.


    1. As a part of our agreement with the Caddo (these are NAGPRA vessels), we do not make the texture (color) files public; however, they are available upon request for research purposes. Orange is the default color in Landmark Editor, the software that we use to animate these scans, and I also thought it fitting since they’re from the repository/research facility at the University of Texas.


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