Documenting carved stones from 3D models

Paper on the documentation of carved stones was published in the Journal of Cultural Heritages.

Abstract: Revealing carved parts in rock art is of primary importance and remains a major challenge for archaeo-logical documentation. Computational geometry applied to 3D imaging provides a unique opportunity todocument rock art. This study evaluates five algorithms and derivatives used to compute ambient occlu-sion and sky visibility on 3D models of Mongolian stelae, also known as deer stones. By contrast withthe previous companion work, models are processed directly in 3D, without preliminary projection. Vol-umetric obscurance gives the best results for the identification of carved figures. The effects of modelresolution and parameters specific to ambient occlusion are then evaluated. Keeping tridimensionalinformation intact allows accurate measurement of distance, volume, and depth. Objects augmentedby ambient occlusion can easily be manipulated in 3D viewers, for seamless and effortless access tothe overall organization of the figures, at the scale of the entire object. Qualitatively speaking, the 2D projected outputs are equivalent to, or even better than, existing archaeological documentation. Theproposed workflow should be easily applicable in many situations, particularly as the functions providedfor the free R programming software are fully configurable.

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