Here you can see some of the 3D models created by the MAT of First World War Artefacts and sites. Click and drag to spin the model round, use the scroll wheel to zoom.
All of these models have been created using a technique called photogrammetry. This method is a method of taking measurements from photographs. You can create 3D models of everything from tiny coins to large buildings using this technique; you start out by taking a large number of overlapping photographs of your subject. Specialist software will then recognise points that appear in multiple photographs to build up a cloud of points that form the shape of the object. You can then create a surface between all the points and layer the original photographs over the top to create a 3D model.
3D models are a great tool in archaeology as it allows us to explore sites and objects in new and exciting ways, and can be used for both research and education. Sometimes, an object is too delicate to be handled much or needs to be kept in special conditions to help its conservation. By capturing it in 3D, we can create a version of the object that can be virtually handled as much as we need to. Such models are also a great way of showing off the object when the original in inaccessible, maybe because of it's conservation needs, or maybe because it's in a museum the other side of the world or still on the sea bed. Because of the detail that can be achieved with these models, we can capture information on-site and do the research on it back at the office. This is particularly pertinent in maritime archaeology when a lot of what we look at is deep beneath the waves and so inaccessible to much of the public.