Pop-up: Photo Masking Olduvai Handaxes

100% completed

This application enables the creation of a high quality 3D model of an archaeological artefact via process known as photo-masking. There has been a revolution in 3D modelling in recent years and it is now relatively easy to construct such models from ordinary digital photographs. Isolating the object depicted in these photographs, and masking out the background, is an important first step to achieving high quality results. The final 3D model will be made publicly available and is useful not only for basic documentation purposes, but also for graphical displays in museums, for inclusion in gaming and virtual reality environments, or for identifing different sub-styles in otherwise similar types of artefact (that might tell us about the date of the artefact, where it was made, or by whom).

This particular photo-masking application is dedicated to two handaxes housed temporarily at UCL Institute of Archaeology. These handaxes correspond to the Acheulean period (i.e. the age of the handaxe, which spans between 1.7 and 0.2 myr) at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. One is made of lava and the other of quartzite, and were discovered by the Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project (OGAP) from eroding outcrops in Olduvai Bed II, where the Acheulean age began around 1.5 myr ago.

We would like people to draw a polygon around the handaxe that they see in each photograph in order to identify its outline and exclude the image background. This allows the 3D modelling process to concentrate on the object itself and ignore irrelevant background information.

If you are interested in what a 3D completed model looks like, please have a look at the example here for a MicroPasts palstave model.

**Thank you!

** Hugh Fiske, Jeff Okazaki, Dina Fathalla, Nina Sharman, Jane Fellows, Heidi Lund, Tim Matteson, Maragkaki Froso, Maria Christakou, Christopher Wai and other anonymous contributors for completing this application.

This project is on behalf of:

Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project The UCL Institute of
Archaeology

Find the code on GitHub