My name is Viktoryia Makouskaya. I am studying towards a masters in archaeology at the history department of the Belarusian State University. I was always interested in the question of three-dimensional visualisations and their application in archaeology. In the third year of my bachelors I discovered photogrammetry. I was struck by the availability of this technology and the multitude of opportunities it opens up for research and popular dissemination of results. In particular, I was awestruck by the way museums around the world digitised and opened their collections to free access and the possibilities it creates for researchers to share their work with the public.
I really wanted to contribute to the development of this technological expansion and the move to free open access in Belarus.
I studied photogrammetry on my own, using textbooks, program manuals, and thematic videos on the Internet. In the process, I met a number of foreign experts from whom I tried to learn everything I could. The practice sessions at the university museum, where I had the opportunity to work with various types of archaeological artefacts, became a good base for learning.
My areas of interest include the use of photogrammetry in archaeological research, as well as in museum work for the digitisation of objects of historical and cultural heritage.
In archeology, photogrammetry usually serves several primary uses: for on site recording and field documentation; visualising the research process; digitising artefacts for demonstration or for further analysis. I will demonstrate several of these uses with examples of my work.
Visualisation of the crypt investigations in Rękawczyn (Poland)
During my undergraduate studies, I participated in an international archaeological expedition in Poland. We investigated a late medieval crypt and the cemetery where it was located. I offered to create a visual aid of the research process.
Recording the results of each of the three stages of the crypt disassembly using photogrammetry, I was able to create three separate models. Later, I combined these models into one layered image, added a scale bar and a north direction indicator. Thus, the obtained model demonstrated the development of the crypt investigation in three stages and as a continuous image.
Reconstruction of wood mounts and brackets of the Zhabersky castle bridge
In 2018, a group of Belarusian archaeologists and divers was engaged in underwater research of the 17th – early 18th century castle near the village of Zhaber, Brest Region, Belarus. A number of artefacts were recovered from under the water, that are associated with the destruction of the castle by Swedish troops in 1706. Among them were remains of a wooden bridge that extended over the water from both banks, forming a single structure.
The wood was in a poor state of preservation and urgently needed conservation. I was asked to digitise some of the finds, including elements of this design. The main goal was to create a virtual copy of the finds for further research. A task made particularly pertinent by the poor condition of the wood. The additional objective of my work was the creation of visual material for a public lecture on the results of the investigation.
Each of the two parts was digitised separately with the help of photogrammetry. The two models were joined in 3ds Max program. The result was a single model, which reproduced the wood mounts and brackets of the Zhabersky castle bridge.
Digitisation of archaeological artefacts and museum collections
Another area where I actively use photogrammetry is the digitisation of archaeological artefacts and museum collections. An example of archaeological artefact digitisation is a series of ceramic vessels from the Naury barrow cemetery, Minsk region, Belarus (the late 10th – 12th centuries). The main objective of this work was to create a digital database and visual record of the ceramic vessels for further research (measurements, comparisons, etc.).
Another example of digitising artefacts was the creation of models of several objects from rescue excavations at the Old Castle in Hrodna. The objective was popular dissemination of excavation results and the facilitation of future research needs.
Now I work at a museum, where I have initiated a project on the partial digitisation of collections. The main goal of this project is to acquaint the public with the most characteristic items from the museum’s collections, to increase the availability of the collection to researchers, and to create virtual copies of the museum collections and ensure their continued preservation in digital form. Currently, the “ceramics” and the “wooden household items” are already partially digitised.
For me, Sketchfab is much more than just an online platform for hosting 3D models. It is a place that allows me to draw inspiration from projects and works in almost any field, find colleagues and like-minded people, read educational articles and develop in my chosen field. Most importantly, Sketchfab gives me the opportunity to realise my potential, express myself, and tell the world about my country and its cultural heritage.