What wood would be good for 3D?

Last week, we visited Vindolanda for a bit of a tester session of how effective 3D imaging strategies may be on some of their wooden collection. Yes – we actually  visited… in PERSON! Our first socially distanced visit and with the glorious company of two other researchers at Teesside University, Rebecca Strong and Matthew Crowther:

Rebecca, Matthew and Rhys forming a love of 3D triangle

Vindolanda has a lot of wood in fantastic preservation. 3D imaging can normally capture wood beautifully, but we were interested to see whether we could capture the difficult things, such as little bits of graffiti carved into tools, woodworker’s stamps in the intricately designed combs, and the combination of wood, cob nails and vivianite in shoes. By and large, it was pretty successful! We’re still processing the scans, which will unfortunately take a while longer due to COVID-related access issues, but hopefully we can share them all with you soon. But for now, how about one of the shoes!

Now, the combs. We can say with pretty high confidence that these did not scan well. This was expected really, due to how intricate the geometry was and the stamp of interest being flush with the surface and visually unclear in the original object. But, we could maybe work a bit of photographic manipulation and extract some of the details to make a 3D relief of the comb instead, similar to some work we have done with the writing tablets. This certainly can’t be used for geometric analysis, and the colourful woody textures are lost, but it does offer a different approach to viewing the small and sometimes indiscernible evidence of individuals working away at Roman Vindolanda!

Pretty funky, right!? These visits are really important when planning a new 3D strategy within archaeological projects and museum displays because whilst we can offer some suggestions from afar, actually having a go scanning and engaging in detailed discussion really lays out what can, can’t, and could be done with the specific objects and their display! So, keep and eye open for some more of our wooden models, and who knows, maybe there will be some exciting developments soon..!

Anyway, happy to say that Vindolanda is even more picturesque than before 2020. If you’re sick of walking around the same old park for the past 8 months, commenting on the same old tree and the same old weather today, how about visiting the fabulous site and museum? As a bonus, they still serve great cakes in the café!

Vindolanda really is very pretty this time of year!

Now, at the start of the year, back when many people probably hadn’t heard of the place Wuhan before, we were gearing up for a couple research talks across Europe and planning our best-selling, No.1 hit blog posts to accompany them. Unfortunately, these were cancelled, as you can probably guess why. One of these, the Roman Finds Group, postponed the meeting to this weekend, to which we had the absolutely pleasure of being invited to showcase our 3D modelling work in a session dedicated to digital engagement at Vindolanda. Better yet, the normally modest audience bolstered to over 250 delegates across the two days! It was so good to see unanimous agreement on the importance of 3D in public engagement, exploring new and inclusive applications beyond focusing purely on a research viewpoint. There were even people that had held our 3D printed cranium many moons ago and still remember it fondly with every passing day! (Okay I may have embellished a little there). Maybe I’m bigging it up too much, but this was the first time I ever received a “hear hear” so I’m rolling with it.

Getting all prepared to present! All this time working from home and it’s STILL a really weird experience presenting to the PC/wall.

If you’re interested in viewing some of the talks for yourself, keep an eye out on the Roman Finds Group because they should be available online soon! In the meantime, check out the new Vindolanda game Vindolanda: The Missing Dead, available on the Google Play Store now ready for your next visit. It looks super! The entire meeting was fantastic, great work being shown from across Roman Scotland, North England and Vindolanda, but of course y’all know we love our 3D – I mean… it’s in the title of this post!

Until next time!


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