Point Clouds via Terrestrial Laser Scanning as a Digital Scaffold for Archaeological Visualization
Traditional rescue archaeology has focused on the rapid excavation or the cursory documentation of endangered archaeological sites, typically in urban settings. However, when the archaeologist is in remote field situations and encounters an endangered site or only has access to an important site for a short amount of time, little documentation is typically possible in the minimal time available to pursue such fortuitous projects. This leads to the loss of a significant amount of potentially useful cultural heritage data. With the advent of new scanning systems and point cloud technologies, more data can now be collected to preserve endangered sites prior to, or even during, their destruction. Even then, however, these systems were not designed for cultural heritage documentation or even to be conducted under the auspices of scientific investigation. Therefore new solutions needed to be engineered to adapt existing technologies for archaeological documentation and new scientific methodologies of digital record keeping established to gather cultural heritage information to prepare it for visualization, dissemination, and augmented annotation within the wider workflow of the cultural heritage diagnostics team sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s IGERT-TEECH at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) with the Center of Interdisciplinary Studies for Art, Architecture, and Archaeology (CISA3) at the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).