Photo-masking an Iraq mortar

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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 about a round stone mortar with two holes on both sides. The object was found in Gird-i Bazar, which is part of a Neo-Assyrian settlement complex (ca. 900-600 BCE) located in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq, province of Sulaymaniyah. The mortar was excavated in the summer of 2016 during archaeological investigations carried out by LMU Munich's Ancient History Department, which has been running the excavation since 2015. Stone mortars were, and sometimes still are, used with stone pestles to prepare ingredients or substances by crushing and grinding them into a fine paste or powder. With this crowd-sourcing project we are asking for your help to assist with the 3D documentation of one of these tools.

What we want you to do

We would like people to draw a polygon around the object 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 our 3D completed models look like, please have a look at our Sketchfab profile.

This project is a collaboration with LMU’s Ancient History Department, Munich.

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Find the code on GitHub

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