University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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3D imaging at the microscale: Feature visualisation and wear analysis applied to artefacts
Adrian Evans

Last modified: 2012-01-02


This paper highlights the potential for the use of 3D microscopy for the study of archaeological materials. A review of current technologies in 3D microscopy is presented which higlights differences in how 3D data is generated by these systems. A case study showing how laser scanning confocal microscopy, with a sub-micrometer resolution, can be used to aid the recording and analysis of wear features on archaeological samples. In the field of lithic analysis, observation of wear is used to make interpretation of tool use and site function. The methods traditionally used by lithic specialists relies on personal interpretation of wear at tool edges. This study shows that laser microscopy can produce high quality images for visual presentation that also lend themselves to surface texture analysis. Roughness measurement algorithms can be applied to these 3D images and are used to differentiate tools used for different tasks; bringing quantitative method to lithic use-wear analysis. Other examples of the use of these technologies is presented along with a discussion of some methodological issues, including the use of casting when doing texture analysis.