3D scans reveal North America’s largest cave art | National Geography
Simek, a leading cave artist in Southeastern America, is well aware of the many inconveniences of the 19th Untitled Cave. For example, three-kilometer-long corridors are damp and dark, and one-meter-high corridors have a lot of cave art on the roof.
Simek agrees that the caves are very unpleasant. “You don’t go to caves because you like them so much, but because there’s something beautiful.”
Co-author Alvarez also has a career in caving. He continues to contribute National Geography And is the founder of the Ancient Art Archive. This non-profit organization uses advanced technology to preserve ancient art.
“I really enjoy exploring the largest caves in the world because I wanted to go there first,” says Alvarez, who explored several caves in Tennessee during his youth. However, when he discovered prehistoric cave art, he became more interested in who was there before him.
Researchers have discovered ancient masterpieces using 3D photogrammetry. With this emerging technology, it is possible to create three-dimensional models from photographs with each other. Cartographers have been using this technology for many years. Using aerial photographs of each other, they can guess the physical features of the earth and create topographic maps.
However, you do not have to be on a plane for photogrammetry. With the right equipment, the right team and a lot of patience, the technique can be used even deep underground.
The team spent two months underground using every inch of the main room of the 19th Untitled Cave using a digital camera, LED lights and photo installation set in dry cave floor or knee deep water. A total of 16,000 photos were taken.
However, most of the actual work has not yet arrived. This requires uploading every 50 megapixel photo and processing it into a larger 3D model. (According to Alvarez, “the data that melted our first computer”).
As the photos were exaggerated and the digital model of the cave ceiling was expanded, researchers were eager to find details that were too large or too blurry for their eyes or static photos of the room.
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