High-tech 3D Scanning Helps Restore 3000-Year-Old Crushed Cultural Relics

HANGZHOU, China, June 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A treasure trove at the high-profile Sanxingdui archaeological site in Sichuan Province, China, has been unveiled to the public with a total of nearly 13,000 numbered relics unearthed, including 3,155 relatively intact relics in the newly discovered six sacrificial pits. Scantech’s high-precision 3D laser scanners has been used for recording and restoring ancient artifacts unearthed. 

Repair of an Bronze Sacred Tree

The object to be repaired is the bronze sacred tree No.3, one of eight magnificent trees unearthed from sacrificial pit No.2 of Sanxingdui in 1986.

There is no definite conclusion about the function of the tree. Some think ancestors of the ancient kingdom of Shu used these sacred trees to communicate with heaven and earth and show their reverence and awe for their ancestors and gods. 

Challenge of Replicating Artifacts in Broken State

Unlike the relatively intact and delicate artifacts displayed in a museum, relics excavated in these sacrificial pits were broken and crushed. Evidence suggests that the objects were shattered and thrown into pits after being used for ceremonial rites.

Workflow of Reconstruction

Before conducting any restoration for the scared tree No.3, the archaeological researchers decided to assemble these pieces to see what it looked like virtually. The decision was to to ensure that there is no damage caused to the object before actual restoration and to accelerate the repair process. 

The first step was to collect data. Traditionally, experts use conventional measurement methods and photography to record data, which takes a long time. The data captured are usually not complete and limited for use. 

This time, for the Sacred Tree No.3, archaeologists used 3D scanning to capture the tree’s data. They used our handheld laser 3D scanner to capture the data of 69 branches of the tree one by one. Thanks to its ultra-high scanning rate, Scantech’s metrology 3D laser scanner assisted researchers in accurately obtaining complete 3D data of relic fragments in a short amount of time.

A model is then generated in 3D software to reconstruct 1:1-sized branches.

The archaeology and restoration of cultural relics at the Sanxingdui Site are still in full swing. We believe new technologies will play a vital role in reviving more cultural treasures.

For more cases, please read:

Scantech Helps 3D Scan 8-meter and 190-million-year-old Dinosaur Fossils

Application of 3D scanning in Architecture Digitization