Low-Cost Real-Time 3D Reconstruction of Large-Scale
Excavation Sites

JOCCH 2015

M. Zollhöfer 1 C. Siegl 1 M. Vetter 3 B. Dreyer 2 M. Stamminger 1 S. Aybek 4 F. Bauer 1
1 University of Erlangen-Nuremberg 2 Ancient History (FAU) 3 Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences 4 Celal Bayar University Manisa


The 3D reconstruction of archeological sites is still an expensive and time-consuming task. In this article, we present a novel interactive, low-cost approach to 3D reconstruction and compare it to a standard photogrammetry pipeline based on high-resolution photographs. Our novel real-time reconstruction pipeline is based on a low-cost, consumer-level hand-held RGB-D sensor. While scanning, the user sees a live view of the current reconstruction, allowing the user to intervene immediately and adapt the sensor path to the current scanning result. After a raw reconstruction has been acquired, the digital model is interactively warped to fit a geo-referenced map using a handle-based deformation paradigm. Even large sites can be scanned within a few minutes, and no costly postprocessing is required. The quality of the acquired digitized raw 3D models is evaluated by comparing them to actual imagery, a geo-referenced map of the excavation site, and a photogrammetry-based reconstruction. We made extensive tests under real-world conditions on an archeological excavation in Metropolis, Ionia, Turkey. We found that the reconstruction quality of our approach is comparable to that of photogrammetry. Yet, both approaches have advantages and shortcomings in specific setups, which we analyze and discuss.

Paper Video



author = {Michael Zollh{\"o}fer and Christian Siegl and Mark Vetter and Boris Dreyer and Marc Stamminger and Serdar Aybek and Frank Bauer},
title = {Low-Cost Real-Time 3D Reconstruction of Large-Scale Excavation Sites},
journal = {J. Comput. Cult. Herit.},
volume = {9},
number = {1},
pages = {2:1--2:20},
year = {2015},
issn = {1556-4673},
publisher = {ACM}