Recreating Ancient Heritage Through 3D Printing

Share this Article

The original Rider [Image: State Office for the Preservation of Monuments on the Stuttgart regional board, Ginger Neumann]

In the 19th century, an Austrian mine operator named Johann Georg Ramsauer working near Hallstatt, Austria encountered a sizable prehistoric cemetery containing more than 1,000 burial sites. The graves were of men, women, and children who had lived and died in this area between 800 and 500 BCE during what has come to be known as the Hallstatt period. Since then a number of graves and settlements have been discovered in adjoining areas that are also part of this culture. The reason for the abrupt ending of the civilization is unknown, but the objects found in the graves continue to tantalize archaeologists to this day. Although many of the graves have been robbed, some objects have come down to us from this distant past, including a particularly captivating figure on horseback called the Rider of Unlingen.

Watercolor commissioned by Johann Ramsauer documenting one of his cemetery digs at Hallstatt

The Rider, executed in bronze, sits astride a double horse, whose broken legs indicate that the figure once formed part of some larger object, possibly on the lid of a vessel, the rest of which disappeared when the grave was robbed. Depictions of human figures from this time period are extremely unusual, and this particular piece is one of the oldest representations of a mounted rider from north of the Alps and as such is an extremely important part of understanding the area’s cultural history.

The difficulty in studying pieces of such importance lies in their very rarity, which restricts the number of people who have access to the piece. In addition, because of the dangers inherent in transporting or handling such unusual pieces, there are necessarily limits to how many times they can be directly examined. Traditionally, expansion of access has been given by creating replicas, but the mold making techniques required for such recreation hold inherent risks to the object itself, risks too great to take with an object of such rarity.

Using no-touch scanning techniques provided through the latest in 3D technology has opened up a new world of opportunities for recreating such rare cultural artifacts as often as necessary. In the case of the Rider of Unlingen, x-ray computer tomography (CT scanning) was used to create a 3D digital model that was then evaluated using VGSTUDIO MAX 3.0 software. The resulting STL file was then ready for 3D printing, meaning that the object can be reproduced anywhere by anyone with access to a 3D printer, significantly expanding the number of people who have access to studying the object and greatly reducing the price of reproduction.

The ability to create such replicas is the focus of a current exhibit on display at two museums highlighting the Rider. As Nicole Ebinger-Rist from the Baden-Württemberg State Office for the Preservation of Monuments explained:

“The replica created is being shown as part of the exhibition entitled ‘The Rider of Unlingen’ – Celts, horses and charioteers. It’s an exhibition at two museums showing what state-of-the-art technology can do today. True-to-detail reproduction without direct molding (which could potentially damage discovered objects) is crucial here. In the museum world, original specimens are grouped together in exhibitions, allowing them to be contrasted with comparable objects. These comparative collections give exhibition visitors and scientific researchers insight in a historical context. A replica which is faithful to the original can be made accessible at museums in many different places around the world.”

The replicas are sufficiently life-like in detail to allow for in-depth study, as 3D scanning technology picks up an extremely high level of detail and 3D printing can create objects with an advanced level of precision. In this case, the replicas were created by Concept Laser’s Mlab Cusing machine, which solidifies powder into a three-dimensional form.

Instead of being plasticky replicas, they feel very real, according to Ebinger-Rist:

“All of a sudden, you’re holding an object from the 7th century BCE in your hands, except that it’s made out of powder from the 21st century. You’ve got a cultural-historically relevant copy in your hands and are looking at 28 centuries gone by. It’s simply overwhelming. 3D printing is a wild technology. Every archeological find has its own magic, especially when they are as unique as the Rider of Unlingen. When you’re holding a reproduction which resembles the original one-to-one, it’s a very special thing, and very important for further research.”

A high level of detail: The 3D-printed copy of the Rider of Unlingen [Image: State Office for the Preservation of Monuments on the Stuttgart regional board]

From the dust of civilizations and the powders of modern technology comes the opportunity for greater understanding of the cultural history of humanity. Discuss in the Ancient Heritage forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: Concept Laser]

 

Share this Article


Recent News

3D Printing & Conductivity: Fabricating Ultra-Stretchable Conductors

Simulation First Initiative Helps Honeywell Engineers Find Optimal Parameters for 3D Printed & Machined Parts



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

What is Metrology Part 8: Complex Analysis, Optics, and Metrology

This is a brief summary on the physics behind metrology, optics, and the math behind it - complex analysis. This is a fun introduction to complex physics interactions within technology.

China: Applying Neural-Network Machine Learning to Additive Manufacturing Processes

In ‘Applying Neural-Network-Based Machine Learning to Additive Manufacturing: Current Applications, Challenges, and Future Perspectives,’ authors Xinbo Qi, Guofeng Chen, Yong Li, Xuan Cheng, and Changpeng Li investigate how machine learning...

Sandia National Laboratories 3D Printing Tamper-Indicating Enclosures

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are researching improved methods of monitoring and inspecting enclosures, with new systems that visualize molecular changes, alerting users to an issue with a specific area...

3D Printing News Briefs: July 11, 2019

We’ve got plenty of new products to talk about in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, starting with materials from two chemical companies. WACKER announced new grades of of liquid and...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!