Accuracy and Precision of 3D Modeling in Lithic Analysis


Studies of stone artifacts increasingly rely upon measurements of 3D models, due to the ability to capture a larger range of volumentric and angular attributes on these models. Despite the enthusiasm for these new techniques, little research has been conducted on the efficacy of digital reconstructions for quantitative lithic analysis. The objective of this project is to quantify the advantages and disadvantages of two methods of 3D data capture (e.g. photogrammetry and laser scanning).

We capture 3D models of experimentally produced stone artifacts (produced on basalt and obsidian) using both multiple image photogrammetry and laser scanning. The accuracy of these methods is tested through comparisons with standard digital caliper measurements. Precision is investigated by recreating each model twice.

Results show that technique and raw material can have an impact on model accuracy. Obsidian is slightly more accurately modeled by photogrammetry and basalt flakes are slightly more accurately modeled by laser scanning, although both of these techniques are imperfect. Both techniques exhibit relatively high levels of precision. Results show that only photogrammetric volume is imprecise.

Here, we review the strengths of the different methodologies and provide recommendations for future use of 3D modeling in archaeology.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Accuracy and Precision of 3D Modeling in Lithic Analysis. Rebecca Biermann, Alison S. Brooks, David R. Braun. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398221)

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