El Argar culture in 3D

Image of a ceramic bowl

The Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, is contributing 450 high resolution models of pottery originating from the south East of Spain to 3D Icons. In this article gives a glimpse on the background of the collection and how and why it is selected and processed

In the area around Antas, Almeria, the Bronze age civilisation of El Argar was discovered and uncovered by the Siret brothers, two civil engineers from Belgium, amongst others. The Siret brothers were employed to survey mining development in the area and worked as amateur archaeologists in their free time.

The collections they uncovered have been dispersed over several European institutions: many Spanish museums (including MAL Almeria,  Cartagena City Archaeological Museum, National Archaeological Museum of Madrid and  Archaeological Museum of Catalunya); the International Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte (Berlin), The British Museum (London), the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (Oxford) and also to the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels (KMKG).


High resolution modelling enables researchers to create a virtual collection of the dispersed collections for use this according to their needs. The resolution is such good quality that the texture of the moulds the pots were formed can be identified.

KMKG is using photogrammetry for the production of the models. The photographers at KMKG take approximately 200 still shots of each object in carefully controlled lighting environment, allowing to expose details from the inside of the pots.

The stills are then processed using a 3D photogrammetry software solution, Agisoft Photoscan. The process covers several stages from masking, model creation to applying the texture. Human intervention for each object takes 3 -4 hours per object. Computer time easily exceeds 12 hours per object. The final results are stored in .psz (the native Photoscan, format), .obj and .pdf, the latter for online consultation.

You can downlaod a low resolution 3D model here:

PG1235.pdf  6.57 MB