ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume II-5/W3
11 Aug 2015
 | 11 Aug 2015

CASTLE3D - A Computer Aided System for Labelling Archaeological Excavations in 3D

H. Houshiar, D. Borrmann, J. Elseberg, A. Nüchter, F. Näth, and S. Winkler

Keywords: 3D Laser Scanner, Archaeology, Semantic Mapping, 3D Point Cloud Processing

Abstract. Documentation of archaeological excavation sites with conventional methods and tools such as hand drawings, measuring tape and archaeological notes is time consuming. This process is prone to human errors and the quality of the documentation depends on the qualification of the archaeologist on site. Use of modern technology and methods in 3D surveying and 3D robotics facilitate and improve this process. Computer-aided systems and databases improve the documentation quality and increase the speed of data acquisition. 3D laser scanning is the state of the art in modelling archaeological excavation sites, historical sites and even entire cities or landscapes. Modern laser scanners are capable of data acquisition of up to 1 million points per second. This provides a very detailed 3D point cloud of the environment. 3D point clouds and 3D models of an excavation site provide a better representation of the environment for the archaeologist and for documentation. The point cloud can be used both for further studies on the excavation and for the presentation of results. This paper introduces a Computer aided system for labelling archaeological excavations in 3D (CASTLE3D). Consisting of a set of tools for recording and georeferencing the 3D data from an excavation site, CASTLE3D is a novel documentation approach in industrial archaeology. It provides a 2D and 3D visualisation of the data and an easy-to-use interface that enables the archaeologist to select regions of interest and to interact with the data in both representations. The 2D visualisation and a 3D orthogonal view of the data provide cuts of the environment that resemble the traditional hand drawings. The 3D perspective view gives a realistic view of the environment. CASTLE3D is designed as an easy-to-use on-site semantic mapping tool for archaeologists. Each project contains a predefined set of semantic information that can be used to label findings in the data. Multiple regions of interest can be joined under one label. Further information such as color, orientation and archaeological notes are added to the label to improve the documentation. The available 3D information allows for easy measurements in the data. The full 3D information of a region of interest can be segmented from the entire data. By joining this data from different georeferenced views the full 3D shape of findings is stored. All the generated documentation in CASTLE3D is exported to an XML format and serves as input for other systems and databases. Apart from presenting the functionalities of CASTLE3D we evaluate its documentation process in a sample project. For this purpose we export the data to the Adiuvabit database ( where more information is added for further analysis. The documentation process is compared to traditional documentation methods and it is shown how the automated system helps in accelerating the documentation process and decreases errors to a minimum.