ThreeDimensional Epigraphic Recording at Stobi (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia): Creating a Virtual Lapidarium

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Longo, Ian E.
3D Model , Photogrammetry , Epigraphy , Virtual Archaeology , Reflectance Transformation Imaging , High Dynamic Range , Virtual Tour
There is an increased need for 3D recording of archaeological sites and digital preservation of their artifacts. Digital photogrammetry with prosumer DSLR cameras is a suitable tool for recording epigraphy in particular, as it allows for the recording of inscribed surfaces with very high accuracy, often better than 2 mm and with only a short time spent in the field. When photogrammetry is fused with other computational photography techniques like panoramic tours and Reflectance Transformation Imaging, a workflow exists to rival traditional LiDAR­based methods. The difficulty however, arises in the presentation of 3D data. It requires an enormous amount of storage and end­user sophistication. The proposed solution is to use game­engine technology and high definition virtual tours to provide not only scholars, but also the general public with an uncomplicated interface to interact with the detailed 3D epigraphic data. The site of Stobi, located near Gradsko, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was used as a case study to demonstrate the effectiveness of RTI, photogrammetry and virtual tour imaging working in combination. A selection of nine sets of inscriptions from the archaeological site were chosen to demonstrate the range of application for the techniques. The chosen marble, sandstone and breccia inscriptions are representative of the varying levels of deterioration and degradation of the epigraphy at Stobi, in which both their rates of decay and resulting legibility is varied. This selection includes those which are treated and untreated stones as well as those in situ and those in storage. The selection consists of both Latin and Greek inscriptions with content ranging from temple dedication inscriptions to statue dedications. This combination of 3D modeling techniques presents a cost and time efficient solution to both increase the legibility of severely damaged stones and to digitally preserve the current state of the inscriptions.
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