Archaeological anastylosis of two Macedonian tombs in a 3D virtual environment
Archaeological restoration of monuments is a practice requiring extreme caution and thorough study. Archaeologists and conservation experts are very reluctant to proceed to restoration and indeed to reconstruction actions without detailed consultation and thought. Nowadays, anastylosis executed on the real object is practically prohibited. Contemporary technologies have provided archaeologists and other conservation experts with the tools to embark on virtual restorations or anastyloses, thus testing various alternatives without physical intervention on the monument itself. In this way, the values of the monuments are respected according to international conventions. In this paper, two such examples of virtual archaeological anastyloses of two important Macedonian tombs in northern Greece are presented. The anastyloses were performed on three-dimensional (3D) models which have been produced using modern digital 3D documentation techniques, such as image-based modelling and terrestrial laser scanning. The reader is introduced to the history and importance –as well as the peculiarities– of the Macedonian tombs. In addition, the two tombs are described in detail mainly from an archaeological point of view The process of field data acquisition and processing to produce the 3D models are described. Simple and more or less standard methods were employed in acquiring the raw data. Processing was carried out using commercial software. The resulting 3D models and other documentation products are assessed for their accuracy and completeness. The decisions for the virtual anastylosis are explained in detail and the actual process is also described. The restored monuments are presented and evaluated by the conservation experts. Thus, it is shown how important virtual anastylosis of monuments is to archaeological researchers, as it enables them to conduct in-depth studies, without actually tampering with the monuments themselves. Digital 3D models are contributing to many disciplines, especially in archaeology, as they enable a wider audience to easily access both archaeological and geometric information as well as offering a high degree of interaction possibilities.
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