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3D laser scanning the pre-Hispanic Caribbean sculptures

conservator scanning a wooden figure

3D laser scanning the Musée Barrois reliquary

From the 66 pieces in the study, 15 were selected to undergo 3D laser scanning, including the five pieces described in these pages. The 3D laser scan data provides virtual objects of exceptional detail, accurate down to the cut or polish marks on their surfaces. 

The 3D laser scanner used to scan cotton and wood sculptures collects sub-millimetre accurate data from the surface of the object. It does not collect colour information. The 3D model of each sculpture is shown here rendered in a matt grey colour (as seen in the thumbnails below).

Macro-photographs have been mapped onto the 3D models, enabling the viewer to ‘zoom in’ to study details such as size and angle of cuts, polish scars, resins and pigment layers. Images of the photo-mapped 3D models are shown in these pages, highlighting areas of particular interest. 

Finally, a texture map has been applied to the models to enable the viewer to gain a sense of the colour of the original sculpture. These texture mapped 3D models are shown in the following pages in a series of video clips and there is an interactive viewer of the MET cohoba stand.

The data collected will be used as a research resource for detailed investigation of the objects, as well as a benchmark for the condition of the pieces and as an alternative way to ‘handle’ the objects without recourse to the originals. The scans also enable the viewer to see these pieces three-dimensionally, as works in the round – a key feature of sculpture that two-dimensional images cannot convey.

Follow the links below to see the results of 3D laser scanning the sculptures.