For as long as institutions and individuals have been obtaining, collecting and storing prehistoric and historic materials they have struggled to find and implement a good, usable, reliable and transferable method for increasing the usefulness of their collections. In the past the public and researchers would need to travel to a museum or other collections repositories to study materials in any detail, particularly to obtain measurements of the objects.

However, travel was costly and the measurement process often exposed the object to damage through handling. In other cases objects that have been placed in public museums or repositories may no longer be accessible for such studies since they may be removed as a result of repatriation.

Modern technical developments in computerized, softcopy photogrammetry now can address many of these problems. This report discusses the feasibility and processes necessary to utilize photogrammetric techniques and photogrammetric software in order to be able to gather metric data from softcopy three-dimensional images. A non-metric 35-mm camera, scanner and software system are used to generate color stereo images from which metric data can be retrieved. Our study indicates that such a system can yield measured results from the images only that are well within an acceptable range of error. These results demonstrate the great potential of photogrammetry and modern technology for archiving images, collecting measurements and analyzing artifacts that might not physically be available for study in the future. In addition it suggests consideration of a new approach to the distribution or publication of information about collections or objects. This would involve the distribution of stereo digital imagery, on CD ROM or on the Internet. Researchers who desire detailed measurements of any illustrated object could readily obtain it from the imagery alone.

This research was made possible through Grant MT-0424-4-NC-22 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), and through the use of softbench photogrammetry equipment and software provided by the Intergraph Corporation to the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119