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Facilities - Surface Scanners


Tim Gernat at Jebel Irhoud

Tim Gernat at Jebel Irhoud scanning recently discovered fossil material in situ.

For creating surface-only 3D models of fossils and artifacts we have a Breuckmann triTOS-HE structured light scanner. It consists of a separate controller and sensor unit that are usually mounted on a tripod. The sensor unit is equipped with a projector and a single 1384 x 1036 pixels color camera. This camera acquires information about both the color and the geometry of an object, thus allowing for an accurate mapping of object color to 3D data. The projector uses a 100 W halogen lamp and combines gray code and phase shifting methods to generate the fringe patterns typical for structured light scanners. A notable feature of the triTOS-HE is the modular design of its sensor unit. The five sizes of camera lenses, projector and the base connecting camera and projector are interchangeable. Depending on the set of lenses and the length of the base, the size of the field of view and the resolution limits of the scanner change. When a small field of view is used, small volumes can be digitized at a high resolution. Successively bigger fields of view allow increasingly bigger volumes to be digitized at decreasing resolutions. Thus, with this one scanner we are able to collect data on objects that range in size from individual teeth to complete femora. more

Tim Gernat scanning a section at Jonzac.Tim Gernat scanning a section at Jonzac.


An example of the structured light pattern on a surface at Jonzac.An example of the structured light pattern on a surface at Jonzac.


In addition to scanning hominin fossil material, we are pursing two applications of this technology:

Surface scanning of in situ archaeological remains

We have used the scanner in the field to scan archaeological surfaces, both horizontal (Jonzac) and vertical (Roc de Marsal) , and more recently to scan a fossil skull in situ (Irhoud). 

Some of this work has been published in the following articles:

S. McPherron, T. Gernat, J.-J. Hublin. 2008.  “An example of Structured-Light Scanning for High-Resolution Documentation of in situ Archaeological Finds” Journal of Archaeological Science 36:19-24. [pdf]

T. Gernat, S. J.P. McPherron, H. Dibble, and J-J. Hublin. n.d. “An Application of Structured Light Scanning to Documenting Excavated Surfaces and in situ Finds: Examples from the Middle Paleolithic Sites of Jonzac and Roc de Marsal, France” in Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology.

Click here to download an example of the results from Jonzac:


Virtual faunal comparative collection: 

We are currently scanning complete skeletons of species that are frequently encountered in archaeological work.  We anticipate that researchers will be able to consult these virtual skeletons in their own work, and they will be able to download and print (in 3D) their own comparative collections.  more