Notes from the Field

Arriving to the city on Friday, we immediately went to the museum. We were in a hurry to gain access to Quiriguá Altar L, because the piece was set to be on loan to a museum in Toronto and would not be available after this week for our team to digitize. Using our structured light 3D scanners, our team quickly documented this stone monument, capturing all of the finely carved details and morphology of the piece.

Scanning Altar L at the National Museum in Guatemala City.
Preliminary data acquired with the Artec structured light scanner for Altar L – curated at the National Museum in Guatemala City. These data will be brought together with texture information for a finalized version of this sculpture.

Saturday was spent driving out of Guatemala City arriving at Quiriguá in the afternoon. After getting settled into our accommodations, the DHHC team did a brief tour of the site before sundown. Sunday morning began our first day of scanning and working at the site, and we spent much of the day with reconnaissance, planning, and gathering initial data. Oswaldo Gomez, the Director of the Quiriguá site, is our collaborator on this project, and is serving as a co-Principal investigator. He has organized a team from Guatemala that is helping with logistics and site preparation- including some clearing of vegetation, revealing portions of the site not in decades. The Guatemalan crew is helping our team with assembling shade tarps and providing the scaffolding that are imperative for best documentation using the structured light 3D scanning instruments for the documentation of monuments. 

The Guatemalan archaeology field crew assists in site preparation and documentation needs for the project. Installation of tarps around the stone monuments is providing consistency in lighting for our specialized imaging and 3D laser scanning.
The USF DHHC field team includes 3D Specialists Jorge Gonzalez and Noelia Garcia, archaeologist Jaime Rogers, Director Travis Doering, and drone pilot and photographer Garrett Speed. 

Data acquisition with our structured light scanners on this first day, included work at the ornately carved Stela A. Because we have multiple scanners, we were able to simultaneously work across different areas of the site, and complete the sub-millimetric digitization one of the more challenging carvings in the round – Zoomorph O – and the associated Altar O. Data from these monuments will be post processed and include texture mapped images and color detail. We will next move to Stela C, Zoomorph P, and Altar P, as part of our prioritization of sculpture documentation. 

3D Specialist, Noelia Garcia, using a structured light scanner to capture glyphic text, iconography, and morphology of Zoomorph O. 

We have also begun to 3D map the terrain features at Quiriguá using terrestrial LiDAR instruments, including a phase shift FARO Focus scanner, and the new hybrid Time of Flight scanner from Leica – the RTC360. We are combining our ground-based survey efforts with structure from motion photogrammetry techniques (SfM) that use a drone- based platform for acquisition. We are also using GPS to establish ground control. Our drone-based survey so far has included extended periods of pre-programed flights for the coverage of the core area and including an extension into the surrounding environs.

Project Director, Dr. Travis Doering, shown using terrestrial LiDAR to document terrain and structural features at Quiriguá.
DHHC archaeologist, Jaime Rogers, working with the Leica terrestrial laser scanner in the plaza area.
USF’s Garrett Speed uses GPS to mark control points used for the drone-based survey, as well as for mapping features and locales of importance at the site.
3D Specialist, Jorge Gonzalez works with structured light scanning to 3D document one of the enormous carved stone stela from the site of Quiriguá.

This project involves extensive public interaction and outreach, and our in-country project logistics cooperator, Felipe Guzman, has been indispensable in helping promote the project to the visitors. Guzman has also been assisting with communications and partnership development. The project success is owed largely to our connections through Felipe and we are grateful for his friendship, interest, and love of archaeology. 

Felipe Guzman, our in-Country logistics supporter, watches as 3D Specialist Noelia Garcia works to 3D document one of the large, fragmented zoomorph carvings.
The team during reconnaissance planning at the site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s