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Publication Detail
Digital preservation and dissemination of ancient lithic technology with modern micro-CT
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Abel RL, Parfitt S, Ashton N, Lewis SG, Scott B, Stringer C
  • Publisher:
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    878, 884
  • Journal:
    Computers and Graphics (UK)
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Lithic artefacts, Micro-CT, Computed tomography, X-ray microtomography, Digital preservation, Virtual artefact, Virtual museum, Stereo-lithography, X-RAY MICROTOMOGRAPHY, RESOLUTION COMPUTED-TOMOGRAPHY, CULTURAL-HERITAGE, NEUTRON-RADIOGRAPHY, SCANNING TECHNOLOGY, HUMAN-EVOLUTION, 3D, FOSSIL, BONE, ARTIFACTS
  • Addresses:
    Abel, RL
    Univ London Imperial Coll Sci Technol & Med
    Charing Cross Hosp, Fac Med, Dept Surg & Canc
    W6 8RF

    Univ London Imperial Coll Sci Technol & Med
    Dept Surg & Canc
    W6 8RF
Flaked stone tools were first made and used by early humans from at least 2.6 mya. By analysing temporal, geographical and species-specific variations in tool morphology scientists attempt to understand the evolution of cognition, culture and human behaviour. However, the dispersal of artefact collections around the globe in a large number of institutions makes direct study and comparison of the artefacts problematic, and therefore dependant on published drawings and photographs. The present study aims to determine whether CT could be used to create computerised ("virtual") artefacts, and data shared with scientists and the public. In particular this study assesses whether CT would be cost effective and capture the fine surface topology created by the knapping process. Scanning could cost as little as (sic)2 per flake. It was found that micro-CT could produce accurate high-resolution "virtual" artefacts that resolve features greater than 50 mu m. Importantly, it was possible to visualise the key features of percussion, which distinguish intentionally made flakes from natural breakage. Furthermore, it was possible to recreate missing flakes (or parts thereof) from refitted groups of material by visualising void spaces. Hence it is possible to obtain a better understanding of the knapping process and obtain a glimpse of the flakes that were actually used as tools. The virtual flint artefacts are completely interactive and can be manipulated, viewed, measured and analysed as though they were in the hand and more useful to researchers than 2D drawings or photographs. The models are only 20 MB in size and can easily be distributed online, widening access to collections and access to physical specimens could be replaced with rapid stereotypes (3D prints). In addition, micro-CT imaging technology may give rise to new online "Virtual Museums" where digital data are shared widely and freely around the world, but the original material is conserved in mint condition, only to be removed for new or improved non-destructive imaging techniques. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved,
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