Traditionally, archaeological and cultural heritage objects such as monuments, historic buildings and artefacts were recorded by the process of scaled drawing and planning. This process was at the time an excellent way to document objects however this approach had several limitations including:
- Subjectivity – the resulting record was a representation in the view of the person recording the object
- Limited accuracy – surveys were limited to the accuracy and tolerances of the measuring device used (tape or ruler) and the system of recording (thickness of linework)
- Time-consuming – the ability to rapidly record features is limited by the person’s ability to measure and record a measured point or distance
- Reduced the 3rd dimension – traditionally the process of recording would have taken place on paper, which has the inability to record the changes in detailed geometry across the surface of an object and flatten the detail of an object to the page
The documentation of archaeology and wider cultural heritage objects increasingly avails of 3D scanning and other remote sensing technologies, which produces digital replicas in an accurate and fast way and to a very high resolution with millions of recorded measurements making up each 3D record. Such digital models have a large range of uses, from the conservation and preservation of monuments to the communication of their cultural value to the public. They also support in-depth analysis of their architectural and artistic features as well as allow the production of interpretive reconstructions of their past appearance.