The study of the ancient world is currently undergoing a revolution, as scholars move away from traditional approaches for recording artifacts, architecture, and landscapes, and boldly embrace a new array of highly accurate and realistic 3D methods for capturing, modeling, and representing the material remains from the distant past. In this talk, I will describe the impact of these recent transformations in archaeological recording, especially as they relate to my research on ancient Greek sculpture and architecture. First, I’ll describe the 3D modeling of a richly decorated temple at Corfu using a powerful yet affordable laser-scanner as well as another project at Olympia based on a very new approach—photogrammetry—to generate detailed 3D models of a massive site. Then, I’ll discuss some of the potential trade-offs in shifting from traditional methods like hand-drawing to less intuitive, high-tech digital recording and explain why 3D should nonetheless be seen as the way of the future for art historians, archaeologists, architects, preservationists, and the many others whose research interacts with complex real-world objects and spaces. Finally, I will consider the new possibilities for analysis and publication of 3D data which would be difficult to imagine in the flat world of the printed page.
Originally published at classics.nd.edu.