Prehistoric bedrock features: Recent advances in 3D characterization and geometrical analyses

Dani Nadel, Sagi Filin, Danny Rosenberg, Vera Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bedrock features such as hewn mortars, cupmarks and cupules are known around the world. In the Levant they first appear in Natufian sites (ca. 15,500-11,500CalBP), in large numbers and a wide variety. Traditional archaeological documentation was commonly limited to hand drawing and general photography. In order to better document these features and provide a high-resolution analysis platform, we hereby introduce a protocol based on photogrammetry, 3D modeling and geometrical characterization even of the deepest features. As case studies, we analyze a deep narrow mortar and a bowl-like mortar from the Natufian site of Raqefet Cave, Mt. Carmel, Israel. Using 20 images per feature was sufficient to create a 3D model for each, with a millimeter level of accuracy. We then characterized each by measurements of volume, shape, vertical and horizontal reflective symmetries. The method offers quick and affordable in-field archaeological recording apparatus, facilitating the derivation of high-resolution 3D models. Using the method provides new avenues for bedrock features documentation and analyses, both on intra- and inter-site levels. 14,000-year-old) case study from Mt. Carmel, Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-344
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • 3D modeling
  • Bedrock features
  • Geometrical analyses
  • Natufian
  • Photogrammetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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