Animated 3D Scan from the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

We recently animated one of our 3D models for use in a forthcoming edition of the Boletin Informativo do Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia, and wanted to share it with you. This is vessel II-005.0 from the Calderon Collection, which we scanned last summer with our ZScanner700CX.

I wanted to show it in color here to highlight the amount of reconstruction, and to ask a simple question (I want your comments on this, please–click on the “Leave a Comment” tab below or send me an email–, how much reconstruction is too much? Please keep it civil–I am looking for legitimate arguments–why or why not use this piece in a study of morphometrics?

I should mention that this piece was repaired by a professional conservator—does that weigh into your decision? Should it? I want your thoughts/opinions. Many thanks in advance for your feedback.


Written by zselden

Selden (PhD, Texas A&M University, 2013) is a husband, father, 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. A reasonable amount of reconstruction of vessels is fine, since it makes it easier to appreciate the shape and contour of originally fragmentary vessels. In the vessel illustrated, reconstruction seems reasonable, and likely the vessel can be useful for future morphometric studies. If more than 50 percent of a vessel consist of only reconstructed sections–and especially reconstructed rim sections–that reconstruction may not be particularly useful for 3D studies.


  2. I would not use this for morphometrics. The conservator was working to make something that reflected their estimate of the form for display purposes not for analysis. I do think that this is too much reconstruction unless this is the only vessel of this form.


  3. i think that it would have been interesting to have the piece rendered/replicated before it was reassembled. One of the problems i have had with piece study is that a “whole” artifact doesn’t necessarily give you the best information. Fragments gives you insight to how it was made, material usage, etc via the cross sections of a good fragment. I like to look at what it might have held and observe if there was seepage and how deep into the container. Yet if you cant get your hands on the actual artifact then a 3D rendering can at least give you some visual clues if the rendering is high quality. Yet i have to agree with BKmeans, i wouldn’t feel comfortable using the rendering for morphmetric analysis.


    1. Denise,

      I agree with you completely. And, once you actually 3D scan the objects, you can print the sherds and do standard conservation reconstructing the pot, or do the whole thing digitally, depending of course on software and skills. And, this then leaves the original sherds untouched for other types of analysis.



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