Reducing Scanning Time of Historic Sites from Weeks to Hours

Harriet Brewitt

48 hours to scan three historic sites in Israel – ambitious or impossible? Jamie Quartermaine from Oxford Archaeology, equipped with a handheld 3D mapping device from GeoSLAM, was determined to find out. Jamie’s first stop was the Schneller Building in Jerusalem. In its 160 year history it has been used as an orphanage, barracks and ammunition arsenal. Just last year, an archaeological team unearthed the remains of a Roman bath house and winery underneath the site. The next stage of the building’s history is a conversion into a museum of Judaism – hence the requirement for a complete, high-accuracy survey of the site.

Made up of four floors, 130 rooms, an outer courtyard and a number of stables, Jamie needed to work quickly to scan the entire site. Using the handheld ‘go-anywhere’ ZEB-REVO, in three - 30 minute scans he captured the entire building, including survey control points to georeference the data. Using traditional scanners, this would have taken several weeks and involved multiple set-ups.


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Next stop was an elegant and beautiful 12th-century Benedictine monastery. With no more than 30 minutes between the end of the Vespers – the evening service – and the time when the public would be allowed into the monastery, Jaime carried out a quick reconnaissance and accurately captured the unique domed building, only possible using GeoSLAM’s ’go-anywhere’ device.
Final port of call was a delapidated 19th-century merchant house in the ancient Arab town of Jaffa. The challenge here was to record the building while construction works were in progress, with hoardings and scaffolding obscuring structures. A near impossible task, but the ZEB-REVO was still able to collect survey-grade data in a matter of hours, which formed the basis of a working record of elevations, sections and plans.

In under 48 hours Jamie had captured highly accurate 3D images of 3 heritage buildings. Proof indeed that with the ZEB-REVO, what used to take weeks can now be done in hours.