Virtual reassembly and completion of a fragmentary drinking vessel

Despoina Tsiafaki, Anestis Koutsoudis, Fotis Arnaoutoglou, Natasa Michailidou


A  key  issue  in  the  study  of  cultural  assets  is theiroften  fragmentary  condition.  This  causes  serious  problems  and questions regarding theirstudy and presentation. Pottery fragments are the most numerous findings in every excavation. Furthermore, pottery plays an essential role for the reconstruction of the past, since it providesinformation for all aspects of  life  (private,  public,  religion,  death,  economy,  society,  trade,etc.). Therefore,a  thorough  study  and  presentation  of pottery fragments contribute to a better knowledge of the past.The focus of this work is the visualisation of an ancient Greek  drinking  vase,  a kantharos,  which  was  unearthed  during  the  excavations  at  the  settlement  of  Karabournaki (ancient Therme) in the area of Thessaloniki (Greece). It dates to the Archaic period (7th-6thc. B.C.) and it was found in fragments  among  the  settlement's  architectural  remains.  The  vase  is  of  great  archaeological  significance  due  to  its peculiarities  in  terms  of  shape,  decoration  and  function. Therefore,its  digital  completion  and  3D  reconstruction  willcontribute to its betterstudy and scholarly publication along with a general contribution to the field of pottery studies.We discuss  on  the  3D  digitisation  of  the kantharosfragments  that  werebased  onStructure from Motion/Multiple  View Stereovision  (SfM/MVS)  and  a  custom  automated  data  collection  system.  A  detailed  description  of  the  digitisation pipeline is given along with details related to the quality of the 3D digital replicas of the sherds. Furthermore, we presentour  manual  virtual  reassembly  and  reconstruction  pipelineof  the kantharosby  describing  the  challenges,  issues  and ambiguities discovered while analysing the geometrical features of each sherd. A number of photorealistic reconstruction visualisations  of  the  artefact  are  presented  in  order  to  question  the  applicability  of  the  solution  for  the  actual reconstruction


pottery; cultural heritage; digital archaeology; 3D documentation; virtual archaeology; 3D reconstruction

Full Text:



BAPD (2014). Beazley archive pottery database. Retrieved June22, 2016, from

Blender (2016). An open source 3D graphics and animation software. Retrieved June22, 2016, from

Breuckmann, B., Karl, St., &Trinkl, E.(2013). Digitisingancient pottery. Precision in 3D. Forum archaeologiae, Zeitschrift für klassische Archäologi, 66(3). RetrievedJune 22, 2016, from elisabeth.trinkl/forum/forum0313/forum66scan.pdf

Bruno, F., Bruno, S., De Sensi, G., Luchi, M.-L., Mancuso, S., & Muzzupappa, M. (2010). From 3D reconstruction to virtual reality: A complete methodology for digital archaeological exhibition. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 11, 42–49.

Buko, A. (2008). Pottery fragmentation as a source of archaeological information. Archaeologia Polona, 46, 149–162.

Courbin, P. (1953).Les origines du canthare attique archaïque. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, 77(1), 322–345. https:/

Dell’Unto, N. (2014). The use of 3D models for intra-site investigation in archaeology. InSt. Campana& F. Remondino, (Eds.), 3D Recording and Modeling in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. Theory and best practices (pp. 151–158). Oxford: BAR International.

Einarsson, C. (2014). Pottery in museums. How, why and what do we exhibit? (Masther’s thesis). University of Uppsala.

Ercek, R., Viviers, D.,& Warzée, N. (2010). 3D reconstruction and digitalization of an archeological site, Itanos, Crete. Virtual Archaeology Review, 1(1), 81–85.

ICOM (2016). Museum definition. Retrieved June22, 2016, from

Ilieva, P. (2013). G 2-3 Ware: The sub(proto)geometric tradition of the northeastern Aegean. In P. Adam-Veleni, E. Kefalidou &D. Tsiafaki (Eds.), Pottery workshops in northeastern Aegean (8th-early 5th c. BC) (pp. 123–131). Thessaloniki: Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

Karabournaki (2016). Karabournaki, recording the past. Retrieved June22, 2016, from

Kilinski, K. (2005). In pursuit of the Boeotian cantharus. The Ancient World, 36(2), 176–212.

Koutsoudis, A., Ioannakis, G., Vidmar, B., Arnaoutoglou, F.,&Chamzas, C. (2015). Using noise function-based patterns to enhance photogrammetric 3D reconstruction performance of featureless surfaces. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 16(5), 664–670.

Koutsoudis, A., Vidmar, B.,& Arnaoutoglou, F. (2013). Performance evaluation of a multi-image 3D reconstruction software on a low-feature artefact. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(12), 4450–4456.

Koutsoudis, A., Vidmar, B., Ioannakis, G., Arnaoutoglou, F., Pavlidis, G.,&Chamzas, C. (2013).Multi-image 3D reconstruction data evaluation. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 15(1), 73–79.

Lord, B.,&Piacente, M. (Eds.)(2014). Manual of museum exhibitions. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

Manakidou, E. (2010). Céramiques indigènes de l’époque géométrique et archaïque à Karabournaki. InH. Tréziny(Ed.) Grecs et Indigènes de la Catalogne à la Mer Noire. Actes des rencontres du programme européen Ramses2 (2006-2008) (pp. 463–470). Bibliothèque d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine, 3, Paris.

Maqueda García-Morales, R., Luque Cortina, M., Andreu Pintado, J.,& Romero Novella, L. (2015). Princeps Resurgens: archaeological research and photogrammetric documentation in the study of a Roman thoracata statue of Los Bañales (Uncastillo, Zaragoza). Virtual Archaeology Review, 6(13), 65–71.

Mara, H.,&Portl, J. (2012). Acquisition anddocumentation of vases using high-resolution3D-scanners. In E. Trinkl(Ed.), Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Österreich, Beiheft 1: Neue Interdisziplinäre Dokumentations-und Visualisierungsmethoden (25–40). Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Matlab (2016).Matlab. Retrieved June22, 2016, from

Melero, F., León, A.,& Torres, J. (2010). Digitalización y reconstrucción de elementos cerámicos arqueológicos de torno. Virtual Archaeology Review, 1(2), 137–141.

Orton, C. &Hughes, M. (2013). Pottery in archaeology.Cambridge University Press. https:/

Pintus, R., Pal, K., Yang, Y., Weyrich, T., Gobbetti, E. &Rushmeier, H.(2015). A survey of geometric analysis in cultural heritage. Computer Graphics forum, 35(1), 4–31.

Rasheed, N. A.,& Nordin, MD.J.(2015).A survey of computer methods in reconstruction of 3D archaeological pottery objects. International Journal of Advanced Research, 3(3), 712–714.

Serrano Arnáez, B., Fernández García, M., & Esquivel Guerrero, J. (2013). Towards a three-dimensional reconstruction of decorated Hispanic terra sigillata and pottery molds from the pottery workshop at Villares de Andújar (Jaén). Virtual Archaeology Review, 4(9), 100–107.

Stamatopoulos, M., &Anagnostopoulos, C. N. (2016). 3D digital reassembling of archaeological ceramic pottery fragments based on their thickness profile. The Computing Research Repository (CoRR).

Tiverios, M.(1996). Archaia aggeia. Athens: Ekdotike Athenon.

Tiverios, M., Manakidou, E.,& Tsiafaki, D. (2003a).Anaskafikes ergasies sto Karabournaki to 2001: o archaios oikismos. To Archaiologiko Ergo sti Makedonia ke Thraki (AEMTh),15, 2001,255–262.

Tiverios, M., Manakidou, E., &Tsiafakis, D. (2003b). Panepistimiakes anaskafes sto Karabournaki Thessalonikis (2000-2002). Egnatia, 7, 327–351.

Tsiafaki, D.(2012). The contribution of new technologies in archaeology: Goals &Issues. In N. Zacharias(Ed.), 2nd Symposium -Archaeological Research and New Technologies ARCH_RNT(93–98), Kalamata, Greece.

Tsiafaki, D.,& Michailidou, N.(2015). Benefits and problems through the application of 3D technologies in archaeology: recording, visualisation, representation and reconstruction. Scientific Culture, 1(3), 37–45. Retrieved from

Tsiafakis, D.(2010). Domestic architecture in the northern Aegean: the evidence from the ancient settlement of Karabournaki. In H. Tréziny(Ed.), Grecs et Indigènes de la Catalogne à la Mer Noire. Actes des rencontres du programme européen Ramses2 (2006-2008)(pp. 379-388). Bibliothèque d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine, 3, Paris.

Tucci, G., Cini, D.,&Nobile, A. (2011). Effective 3Ddigitization of archaeological artefacts for interactive virtual museum. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences (ISPRS), 38(5/W16), 413–420.

Villard, F.(1962). Les Canthares de Buccheroet la chronologie du commerce etrusque d'exportation. In M. Renard (Ed.), Hommages à Albert Grenier (pp. 1625–1635), Brussels.

Willis, A.,&Cooper, D.(2008). Computational reconstruction of ancient artefacts. IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, 25(4), 65–83.

Abstract Views

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License

This journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Universitat Politècnica de València

Official journal of Spanish Society of Virtual Archaeology

e-ISSN: 1989-9947