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CAA2014 Community Archaeology and Technology: Co-Production of alternative views of lost heritage: Crowd-sourced Photogrammetry in Heritage recording
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CAA2014 Community Archaeology and Technology: Co-Production of alternative views of lost heritage: Crowd-sourced Photogrammetry in Heritage recording


Ben Edwards and Andrew Wilson …

Ben Edwards and Andrew Wilson
Paper presented at Computer Applications in Archaeology Conference 2014, 22nd - 25th April 2014, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris as part of Session 12: Community Archaeology and Technology. Session organisers: Nicole Beale and Eleonora Gandolfi. Session blog: http://blog.soton.ac.uk/comarch/

Published in Education , Technology
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  • Outline basic premise of the project – public go out and take photographs of prehistoric stone monuments (supposedly Gwynedd and Anglesey), upload photos to website, we create digital models and make them freely available to researchers and the public through interactive mapping, a gallery and a researchers portal. Stress that we provide location information but the public decides what gets recorded – its crowd sourced data.
    Read through the bullet points
    Stress the source of funding and the project partners with Bangor in the lead.
  • Outline the study area – stress how it was originally limited to the Gwynedd and Anglesey but now encompasses the whole of Wales.
    Explain that this is our interactive map based on Welsh NMR data.
  • First require a series of overlapping photographs of the monument or object from a series of different positions. Mention then that we use AgiSoft photoscan to perform the model creation.
    PhotoScan searches for common points on photographs and matches them.
    As well as it finds the position of the camera for each picture and refines camera calibration parameters.
    As a result a sparse point cloud and a set of camera positions are formed.
    This is detailed picture of the sparse cloud. Photoscan then produces a dense cloud
    Based on the estimated camera positions and pictures themselves a 3D polygon mesh, representing the object surface, is build by PhotoScan.
    Which can then be textured. Some corrections, such as mesh decimation, removal of detached components, closing of holes in the mesh, etc. can be performed by PhotoScan. For more complex editing you have to engage external 3D editor tools. PhotoScan allows you to export the mesh, edit it by another software and import it back.
  • Example of the finished article – fully texture model of Bodowyr Burial Chamber on Anglesey, by taking sufficient photos – 90 in this instance – you can model both the interior and the exterior.
    In this instance, the model was produced on a medium level of detail and contains 159767 points in the dense cloud, becoming 582485 vertices in the finished mesh
  • First port of call is the website for new users, where they can register and then add items to the gallery which will then automatically be submitted for 3D modelling – the results of which are then available through the gallery.
    A key part of the project functioning is providing simple instructions on how to take photographs, so we simplified the guidance down to the essentials, providing some visual and text instructions on how to undertake the work. The key detail being to move your feet between taking pictures (or bend your knees if doing an elevation) to create a baseline, rather than just changing the horizontal or vertical angle of the shot.
    Naturally, also have the usual Facebook and Twitter accounts which attract followers of the project and who we convert a certain numbers to actual registered users of the website.
  • Outreach has 3 major strands:
    Have undertaken (or are undertaking) a visit to all regional local archaeological and active historical societies to encourage them to join the project. This was a key first step as they are already interested individuals and are more likely to contribute.
    Public open days have just begun – Segontium at Caernarfon on Easter weekend. This is to engage the public who would otherwise be isolated from the web presence and local societies. At later opne days we are providing training in photogrammetry on monuments and then a facility for the public to provide us with their photos immediately. Picture is a rock art mural done by kids at Segontium open day
    Schools visits. Our project partner Gwynedd Archaeological Trust (the local HER body) are overseeing the outreach to local schools. They have important local knowledge and contacts, and have a fluent dual-language outreach officer – an important consideration in this region (statutory responsibility of government bodies).
  • Talk about the research portal
  • Great challenge for a project of this sort is attracting and maintaining public interest. We’re stepping up our programme of public engagement, doing paid press advertising as well as generating stories in national Welsh and local press.
    On the technical side, we have also purchased a UAV for photographic purposes, with the intention of recording whole landscapes and large monuments. We can use photogrammetry to create active surface models and maps with the use of coded targets at known locations on the ground.
  • Do thanks and ask people to visit the site etc.


  • 1. Alternative Views of Lost Heritage: Crowd-Sourced Photogrammetry in Heritage Recording Dr Ben Edwards, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • 2. Heritage Together: An introduction AIMS •To engage the public in recording prehistoric heritage •To do so in an innovative manner •To provide freely accessible data to the public and researchers •To contribute to the continued management and protection of a fragile resource An AHRC Connected Communities funded project involving Bangor University, Aberystwyth University, Manchester Metropolitan University and Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
  • 3. Map from website to show scope
  • 4. Photogrammetry: The Technique
  • 5. The Project in Practice: Web Presence
  • 6. 3 STRANDS 1)Involvement of Archaeological Societies 2)Public Open Days 3)Schools Visits The Project in Practice: Outreach
  • 7. The project website will also distribute all its data with no copyright or licensing restrictions through a portal for researchers The Project in Practice: Research
  • 8. Future Developments
  • 9. With thanks to: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Royal Commission for Historic Monuments Wales (RCHMW) Twitter: @heritage2gether Facebook: HeritageTogether Web: www.heritagetogether.org