The cist in 3D

Today I got very, very excited.

Over the last few months I’ve been working on a research project (Scotland’s Rock Art Project) which uses photogrammetry, a technique known as structure-from-motion which involves taking multiple photographs from different angles to create a three dimensional object.

When I woke up this morning, I came downstairs to start running a model and I had a quirky little idea. Was this crazy? Would it work?

I decided to run the photographs taken of the Achavanich cist burial in 1987 through the program and see if I could get a result. With a little bit of tweaking here and there, and playing with which photos to include in the dataset, I soon found myself staring mouth-open-wide at the screen. This is what I found:

Now, I know it isn’t the best model in the world. The front slab of the cist hasn’t rendered correctly and is a little bit fractured. However, the dataset I used to make this model was created over 30 years ago and was never intended to be used in this way.

I had thought that this interaction with the cist was lost to the depths of time, as the site has now been completely cleared away, and nothing remains of what once lay beneath the surface for over 4,000 years.

One of my primary goals of this research project has always been to demonstrate how much potential there is to work with archive material. I really hope that this too just adds a little bit more to the evidence base of what can be achieved.


Update: I spent a few more hours playing with this, and managed to improve the quality of the front slab, and incorporate the bones as well, and briefly show the positioning of the capstone on discovery. (1).gif


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Mavis Holmes says:

    Fascinating how you have re-created the cist in 3D…so clear and informative about the burial.


    1. mayahoole says:

      Thanks Mavis, I’m glad this was informative.


  2. Christopher Childress Sr says:

    Awesome job you have done! Came here from listening to your podcast with The British History podcast. Very well done!


    1. mayahoole says:

      Thanks Christopher, I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed it.


  3. Really fired up by your work, makes me so excited to touch our past like this, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mayahoole says:

      Thanks Angie! Glad you enjoyed our work.


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