AMS Spring 2023

Laser Scanning and Cultural Heritage

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Our good old friend metrology

For those of us who were not fully involved with our last series of articles, I did a huge comprehensive overview of 3D metrology and laser scanning. I was able to do a fun deep dive and teach myself the basics of the technology and other organizations involved with the field. Today though, I am going to give a practical explanation of what we can apply this technology to. If you are into art and culture, this may be for you.

Microsoft AI for Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is a key lens of understanding our world and different people as we have evolved. Cultural heritage can be defined as the expression of the ways that living developed by a community. It also shows how things are passed down from generation to generation. This typically includes customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions, and values. Cultural heritage is often defined within two categories: Intangible and Tangible Cultural Heritage. Intangible Cultural Heritage refers to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skill sets that are common within a culture. Tangible Cultural Heritage refers to physical artifacts or remnants that are produced, maintained, and transmitted throughout generations of a society.

In terms of technology and our purposes, we are concerned with Tangible Cultural Heritage. Tangible Cultural Heritage needs to be kept intact, and we also need to quantify it through different means. We are able to test items chemically to know their approximate age, as well as the materials they are sourced of within the context of the country or region the item is found. For example, let us imagine a piece of cloth found on a remote island near the Bahamas. We can learn a lot about the culture and people through these small intricacies.

Laser Scanning and Archaeology

Laser scanning is optimal in the sense that it can be used to document these artifacts without chemically interacting with them. Fingerprints are acidic everyone lol. The more accuracy in documentation through these means, leads to better analysis in the future research. I myself have an appreciation for culture and am curious about humans as a whole, so being able to see an interesting cross section in interests of mine has been fascinating. There are few resources for learning how to be involved with these types of initiatives. Personally, I recall taking a theology course in college where my professor was focused on archaeological digs and studying ancient civilizations. My interest was piqued, but I did not know where I could be involved. Now I see it more clearly.

So I will be digging a bit deeper and finding resources on cultural heritage and laser scanning. You might even find that I will be on site for an archaeological dig soon.

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