Photo-masking Object Journeys Somali Head-Rest (Barkin/Barjin)

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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 identifying 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 focused on a Somali Head-rest or Barkin/Barjin (BM Catalogue Af1933.1114.16) from the British Museum collections. This object is community curated as part of the HLF-funded Object Journeys. Barkin is the word for headrest and in modern Somali, for pillow. This headrest is made of sturdy but relatively light wood. Highly portable headrests would be used on beds as well as carried by herdsmen who used them to rest while keeping an eye on their herds.

They are not made to be comfortable as herders needed to stay alert to protect their animals from predators; one would rest the nape of their neck on headrest. The barkin may have been carved by the owner or commissioned from a specialist craftsperson. Somali elders informed the Object Journeys group that headrests were also used by nomadic herders in the late 19th and early 20th century to protect the large afro hair styles that were fashionable at the time.

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 a 3D completed model looks like, please have a look here for a MicroPasts palstave model.

This project is on behalf of:

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Find the code on GitHub

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