Computer-based, automatic recording and illustration of complex archaeological artifacts

Ayelet Gilboa, Ayellet Tal, Ilan Shimshoni, Michael Kolomenkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report on the development of a computerized automatic system to illustrate complex archaeological objects. The illustrations are based on 3D scans of the artifacts. The 3D models can be automatically translated, by new algorithms specifically designed for this purpose, into 3D or 2D line drawings; into colored images that emphasize the salient shape attributes of the artifacts and of the 3D designs on them; and to images that enhance faint/eroded designs that are otherwise difficult to discern. These illustrations are intended to replace traditional, manual drawings, which are very expensive to produce and not accurate enough. Our illustrations also provide a better visualization tool than the 3D models themselves. Though 3D scanning already improves the visibility of objects and their features, it does not suffice for rapid visual recognition. Our system generates efficient, objective, accurate and simplified representations of complex objects and the designs on them from any number of required views

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1339
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the close cooperation of Avshalom Karasik, Ilan Sharon, Uzy Smilansky, and Svetlana Matskevich of the Computerized Archaeology Laboratory at the Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. We thank Andrea Berlin, Boston University; Adi Erlich, the University of Haifa; and Susan Rotroff, Washington University in St. Louis—experts on ceramics, figurines and other archaeological media—for discussing with us the methods presented here. We received important input from Noga Ze'evi. As a chief draftsperson for the Israel Antiquities Authority she has illustrated (manually….) thousands such artifacts. The tablet in Fig. 11 is from the collections of the Hebrew University. We thank the British Museum staff for the permission to illustrate the images in Fig. 1 :3, 4 ( © The Trustees of the British Museum) and the directors of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Trier, for letting us reproduce the illustration in Fig. 1 :2. The other illustrations are from the database of the Tel Dor Excavation Project in Israel, directed by Sharon and Gilboa. Fig. 1 was compiled by Anat Regev of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa. The 3D scanner was purchased by the Zinman Institute in collaboration with Uzy Smilansky, the Weizmann Institute of Science, and supported by Israel Science Foundation Grant No. 727/05 , granted to Gilboa, Daniel Nadel, and Ezra Marcus. Work was also supported by The Joint Technion–University of Haifa Research Fund .


  • 3D technology in archaeology
  • Archaeological drawing
  • Computerized illustrations
  • Non-photorealistic rendering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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