A number of 3D renditions of sites and artefacts mapped by the University’s Department of Classics and Archaeology, a team led by Associate Professor, Prof. Timmy Gambin, have been featured on Sketchfab, publisher of online 3D content.
They are part of a mapping project aims to map the seabed of Malta’s territorial waters as well as ongoingly document surveys of various underwater sites and objects.
The project is led in close collaboration with a number of partners, namely the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit within Heritage Malta.
Last year, Hon. Julia Farrugia Portelli had visited the Department of Classics and Archaeology and confirmed that the Malta Tourism Authority would be partially funding the continuation of this project.
In an interview with Sketchfab.com, Prof. Gambin thanked Kari Hyttinen and John Wood, two 3D specialists who helped materialise this project. “I always believed in 3D as a crucial factor that could help maritime archaeology, both in fieldwork and in the sharing of underwater sites”, said Prof. Gambin on the value of their participation.
The typical workflow for the recording of the artefacts involves (1) remote sensing surveys, (2) diver surveys (3) computer processing and (4) public sharing.
Remote sensing refers to the use of robotics, controlled from a boat on the surface, to collect large amounts of information in a short time, and usually at depths that are not accessible to divers.
The data generated from this then ends up being fed into a programme of knowledge of underwater and archaeological sites, allowing heritage regulators to make informed decisions on best practices.
At data analysis stage, anomalies are encountered, such as potential shipwrecks – and once a target is marked, a second dive is planned to generate higher-resolution data. These are documented through the use of a Remote Operated Vehicle, which is equipped with cameras and lights.
Since 2015, the team led by Prof. Gambin have taken, using 4K footage, thousands of photographs to create accurate and scaled 3D models, which are created from sets of overlapping photographs.
Here is a 3D rendition of a Phoenician Urn:
You can view the rest of the discoveries online.