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The University of Southampton

ARCH6136 3D Recording, Modelling and Interpretation

Module Overview

By the end of this module you will be familiar with many tools employed to capture the 3D complexity of archaeological data. You will understand and be able to apply key methods in the documentation of such data and be able to use computer aided design and modelling tools to build on them. You will have experience designing and implementing 3D hardware and software solutions to cultural heritage problems and evaluating their impact on recording and interpretation. You will also critique your application of technology and be able to identify key elements of novel 3D computer science research of value to future archaeological researchers. As a translator between 3D computing and archaeology you will produce a report explaining and evaluating your chosen computing methodology/ies in specific cultural heritage context and an essay defining the intellectual context.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• provide a grounding in the tools available for 3D data capture of archaeological sites and objects • introduce you to the theory and practical examples of generating two and three-dimensional computer representations of archaeological data using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, via modelling and animation tools, and interactive approaches such as game engines. • encourage debate and provide knowledge of the theoretical implications of archaeological 3D data and visualisations. • provide a basis for self-learning of CAD, 3D data capture and graphical representation methodologies, and their application to archaeology.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the theory and practical examples of generating two and three-dimensional computer representations of archaeological data
  • CAD, 3D data capture and modelling software techniques
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate alternative methods for using 3D data in archaeological interpretation and presentation
  • design, implement and critique creative 3D data solutions to archaeological problems
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • plan, design, implement and evaluate the use 3D data capture and modelling software and hardware
  • learn and apply new 3D data skills through self-study
  • document 3D software approaches.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • gather, document and refine 3D archaeological data
  • apply CAD, graphical modelling and related techniques
  • integrate a variety of computerised 3D methodologies to address archaeological problems


Typically, the syllabus will cover the following topics: Introduction to 3D data capture techniques and modelling formats Computed Tomography and volume data Non-contact digitisation e.g. laser scanning and contact digitisation Photogrammetry, giga-pixel and related technologies; total station and other survey Reflectance Transformation Imaging Introduction to CAD Coordinate systems and 2D drawing Drawing management Introducing 3D CAD environment 3D modelling approaches CAD data linking and documentation CAD outputs Introduction to 3Ds Max 2D drawing in 3Ds Max 3D modelling environment 3D modelling approaches 3D modelling approaches Materials Lighting and Rendering Animation Interaction technologies – game engines Multisensory environments

Special Features

The examples used on the module largely derive from on-going staff research with which you may have the opportunity to become directly involved. The practical assignment is structured around a small research project, designed to develop your project management, research design and report writing skills. It is underpinned by an essay that explores the relevant research context. You may have the option to undertake optional fieldwork.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • contact hours distributed over two lectures and two supervised practical classes each week. Additionally, you are expected to undertake some background reading into the current and historical applications of 3D data capture and modelling techniques within archaeology. • tutorials conducted periodically during the module to assist learning and evaluate progress. • optional fieldwork opportunities in support of the module taking place throughout the semester in which it is taught. Learning methods include • unsupervised use of program-specific and general online and other electronic tutorials and other exercises. • use of online learning resources • use of library resources • preparation, design and participation in presentations of specific aspects relating to the module.

Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Completion of assessment task30
Wider reading or practice50
Follow-up work20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

ADS CAD Guide to Good Practice. Available from:

CSA Newsletter (CAD sections).

ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage. 

Harper, J (2012). Mastering Autodesk 3Ds Max 2013. 

Measured & Drawn: Techniques and practice for the metric survey of historic buildings. Available from

Finkelstein, E (2012). AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT 2013 Bible. 

Proceedings of the Computer Applications in Archaeology conferences. 

Ching, F.D.K (2002). Architectural Graphics. 

Internet Archaeology.

Omura, G (2012). Mastering AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD LT 2013. 

ISPRS proceedings (particularly commission V). 


Assessment Strategy

Informal feedback assessments will be provided via:  Blog supervised by module convener  Tutorials and group work


Blog Post


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 50%
Practical assignment  (2500 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

The cost of attending any optional fieldwork will be minimal and where possible will be covered by the University e.g. by provision of minibus transport.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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