Kevin Garstki presents his research at the SAA Annual Conference

Producing Knowledge Through the Production of 3D Digital Artifacts

Symposium: Archaeological Epistemology in the Digital Age
Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting, 2017 – Vancouver, Canada

It is becoming more common to see 3D digital artifacts used for analysis and interpretation, often as if these digital forms are equivalent to the original. This paper discusses the process of creating a 3D model as an essential but often under considered aspect of the final product that should be taken into consideration in their use in any archaeological analysis and interpretation. Digital artifact models inhabit a strange place amongst the suite of traditional archaeological data – their visual appearance may seem accurate to the original but they are lacking many features (surface feel, mass, etc.) that compose a physical thing. If new archaeological knowledge is to be gained from our use of these digital artifact models, then the significant human input that is involved in the production of these models should be explicit. As representations, digital artifact models have the potential to expand the way we reconstruct the past through material culture, but we should consider how these digital models are produced with specific technologies, techniques, and human choices that may impact the final data and their use in archaeological research.