Journal article Open Access

4D Modelling of Low Visibility Underwater Archaeological Excavations Using Multi-Source Photogrammetry in the Bulgarian Black Sea

Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz; Jonathan Adams; Felix Pedrotti

This paper introduces the applicability of underwater
photogrammetric survey within challenging conditions as the main
tool to enhance and enrich the process of documenting archaeological
excavation through the creation of 4D models. Photogrammetry was
being attempted on underwater archaeological sites at least as early
as the 1970s’ and today the production of traditional 3D models is
becoming a common practice within the discipline. Photogrammetry
underwater is more often implemented to record exposed underwater
archaeological remains and less so as a dynamic interpretative tool.  Therefore, it tends to be applied in bright environments and
when underwater visibility is > 1m, reducing its implementation
on most submerged archaeological sites in more turbid conditions.
Recent years have seen significant development of better digital
photographic sensors and the improvement of optical technology,
ideal for darker environments. Such developments, in tandem with
powerful processing computing systems, have allowed underwater
photogrammetry to be used by this research as a standard recording
and interpretative tool. Using multi-source photogrammetry (5,
GoPro5 Hero Black cameras) this paper presents the accumulation of
daily (4D) underwater surveys carried out in the Early Bronze Age
(3,300 BC) to Late Ottoman (17th Century AD) archaeological site of
Ropotamo in the Bulgarian Black Sea under challenging conditions
(< 0.5m visibility). It proves that underwater photogrammetry can
and should be used as one of the main recording methods even in low
light and poor underwater conditions as a way to better understand
the complexity of the underwater archaeological record.

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