Some 3D Models from Cyprus

A number of colleagues responded to my post yesterday on three-dimensional modeling in Mediterranean archaeology, and this is an exciting thing. To show that I’m not a mere observer to the trend, I wanted to post a few 3d models that Brandon Olson and I developed over the past year. 

As I have blogged about before, we modeled our trenches at the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project using Agisoft Photoscan, and these models contributed to our final trench plans. 

Yesterday, as I finished processing a few images from our summer work at Polis-Chrysochous, I uploaded the results to, a new service that provides online support for 3d imaging projects. Sebastian Heath introduced me to this site through his collection of 3D images from Kenchreai and elsewhere. (Here’s a quick peek into how this kind of model might be integrated into the online publication of a site.)The site was easy to use and accepted .obj files produced by Agisoft. I was able to link texture files to .obj file easily to produce a fairly decent looking model. The site performs best in the most recent versions of Google Chrome. To see the images best, make sure to set the shading to “shadeless”. This application seems to require a good bit of processor so it might not work on every computer. It is also in beta, so it is not entirely stable.


I’ve shown images of the trench in Excavation Unit 16 on the site of Vigla at Pyla-Koutsopetria before, but now I have uploaded our 3D model to


The stone-lined storage pit to the north of the trench wall is clearly visible in this model as is the use of roughly worked stones on the fortification wall to create irregular faces. 

I have also uploaded a model of our trench from Excavation Unit 15 on the site of Vigla at Pyla-Koutsopetria. This was Aaron Barth’s trench. Not only is the wall from the first phase of construction at Vigla visible, but a plaster floor that over ran the wall and was buried in wall fall can be seen in the north scarp.


I’ve also uploaded a few examples of architectural detail prepared by Brandon Olson this summer from Polis on Cyprus. The images show key areas of the South Basilica church on the site (for plans of the church and a preliminary discussion go here). The biggest downside of this at present is that there is no way to add a scale or north arrow to the images. I’ve oriented all the images.

For example, here’s a detail of the south wall of the narthex. You can clearly see the lower courses of the arched openings in the south wall of the narthex that were later filled with unmortared stones. You can also see the western most (and only remaining) pier of the south porch at the far right in the model.

South Narthex Wall

The next image is from the north aisle of the basilica and illustrates the substantial buttresses built along the north side of the north aisle wall. We have argued that this buttress likely supported part of a barrel vaulted roof.

North Aisle

Finally, we have a massive and complex model of the south wall and aisle of the basilica including a series of three elite burials, the east wall of the south portico, and the foundation wall of the south aisle. Of particular interest are the tombs and the relationship between the south portico wall and the south wall of the apse and south aisle. Also of interest is the faint remains of a (late?) 7th century cobble wall projecting south from the south portico wall. The walls to the south of main nave are clearly earlier than the basilica. The cobble foundation to the left (or west) of the image may be the foundation for the Hellenistic city wall. 

South Aisle

This model involved over 350 individual photographs and took over 5 days to process in Agisoft.


  1. Awesome models! For what it’s worth, GitHub also will display 3D models in your browser, allowing you to share them. I’d started using p3d, but I prefer GitHub now.


  2. This looks fab – and a really inspiring use of photoscan! As a Mac user, I’ve been really struggling with the 3D PDF issue, so could be ideal. I’ve had a quick play – but only end up creating a solid model after exporting the .obj file from photoscan. How do you link texture files to .obj file easily to produce the final model? I have the low-end version of Photoscan.


  3. It is wonderfull to see other Mediterranean Archaeologist using this technology successfully. We have been using Agisoft Photoscan for the second season now in Hierapolis, Turkey. We are now making almost all our large plan drawings and architectural drawings on top of orthophotos exported from 3D models. The time we spend before on complex stone plans (one day or even days), is now reduced to 20 minutes photo session in the field, 1 hour drawing in the afternoon and 10-30 minutes checking the finished drawings on our ipads in the field the next day. Not only is the technology much more time efficient but it is also extremely accurat – more accurat than any other field documentation I have used, including the total station. And as far as I can see it is the only technology (exept laser scanner) that allows us to take a complete excavation situation or object home and measure and draw it in detail at 3000 km distance from our site. The technology certainly changes the way we record in the field substantially.


    1. Sven,

      Have you checked out the series that we’re running here on 3D imaging in Mediterranean Archaeology?

      Check it out:

      I’d love to get a contribution from you or your team. The invitation is here:



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