ERA Arqueologia, S.A. is a company founded in 1997. Since our foundation, we consider that Heritage Management must be framed by professional structures, with a strong capacity for innovation and rigor, moving in a demanding, competitive and properly protected market. In this way, effective solutions can be sought in a social environment that is increasingly aware of issues related to our archaeological and historical heritage.
An essential part of our work is to safeguard historic sites and document heritage. We started to use 3D digitisation as a registration and study tool in recent years, using photogrammetry at archaeological sites as a way of fully documenting them so that researchers might extract essential information. At the same time, we started to use it on the rehabilitation of buildings, so that it was possible to more accurately study the sites to be intervened.
Quickly these tools have become indispensable in our work and are part of our daily lives. At the same time however, we realized that, apart from being a working tool, the models that we were creating could also be used to disseminate cultural heritage, in particular through the publication of these models and their sharing in the various media available.
This dissemination serves the general population, without access to scientific content most of the time, but also as a reference to the scientific community. The sharing of data allows the creation of an increasingly broader database that can be use as a reference and facilitate the process of studying heritage in general.
For us, the digitisation tools were a great evolution in our works. They allow a fast and accurate registration of the places in which we intervened. The three-dimensional register that we currently make can be of small or large areas but also objects, sometimes very small. For the photographic capture we use drones when the areas are very extensive, and digital cameras when we need greater detail.
The archaeological objects are photographed in our laboratory using a DSLR camera with fixed lens. For the realization of the 3D modes we use Agisoft PhotoScan. This software reconstructs the digital model using the photographs and from this model we can extract all the necessary information for the archaeological record, namely orthophotos, that later can be used as base, correction or as complement of archeological “classic drawings”, digital elevation models but can also be used as base for digital reconstruction/illustration or a model to print.
For some corrections or preparation for publication / reconstruction we use graphic design and 3D modeling software, namely GIMP and Blender. The publication is made in Sketchfab and later shared in all the means at our disposal, such as our Facebook, Twitter and website.
The digitisation of cultural heritage, whether through photogrammetry or the reconstruction of sites, enables organizations that work with heritage to fulfill what they should mainly propose to do: the cultural education and preservation of this heritage. Also, it allows us to minimize the effect of property destruction that occurs daily for several reasons. Most of our work is the preservation of archaeological sites that will be partially or totally affected. Several times the only way that we have to preserve it is through digitsation and it is our work that preserves the memory of that site. However, we have always considered that this work is only complete when it reaches people, because heritage belongs to all. Since the beginning of our activity we have tried, in every possible way, to accomplish this task, often frustrated in part by the lack of places and financial resources to carry out exhibitions of the data or objects collected. With the development of 3D digitisation technologies and the emergence of platforms such as Sketchfab, we are witnessing a greater democratization of heritage and culture, where more people can see and learn their cultural heritage.