On Point-Cloud 9: A Replicable Protocol to Model 3D Point Clouds of Artifacts as 3D Surfaces


The comparative study of artifact-form across time and space is fundamental to archaeological inquiry. Increasingly accessible 3D-scanning technology has allowed digital models of artifacts to have a prominent role in archaeological analyses. With this technology, researchers can generate digital 3D models and point clouds representing scanned artifacts to be later analyzed and distributed to other scientists through open source repositories. However, because comparative morphometric analyses of 3D digital artifacts are recent, common protocols to model point-cloud data have not been established. This makes research replication difficult. Here, we provide a replicable protocol to model 3D surfaces from point cloud data using Meshlab. We show how to import text files containing the raw 3D point-cloud coordinates acquired using any scanning instrument. We proceed to model these point clouds as surfaces by creating, cleaning, and optimizing a triangular mesh, removing outliers and noise generated by the instrument. Finally, the 3D mesh model can be exported as several common 3D-file formats. As a case study, we apply this protocol to 3D point-clouds of experimental marks on bone, and conduct a comparative morphometric analysis to discriminate between bone-marks. This protocol is simple, replicable, and applicable to any point cloud data representing artifacts.

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On Point-Cloud 9: A Replicable Protocol to Model 3D Point Clouds of Artifacts as 3D Surfaces. Hannah Hawkins, Melissa Torquato, Jessica Thompson, Emma James, Erik Otarola-Castillo. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430267)

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Abstract Id(s): 17367