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VCU R.A.M.S and 3D Archaeology
By Julie DiNisio
As a kid, I'd always wanted to be an archaeologist, until someone informed me it was less exciting then it seemed. “Boring” is how they put it, actually. And I was pretty content with my decision up until I saw this Virginia Commonwealth University's Virtual Curation Unit's website. Nicknamed VCU R.A.M.S., short for Recording Archaeological Materials Systematically, the program is substantially more Quail Bell cool than VCU's identically named basketball team.
A recent development in VCU academics, the Virtual Curation Unit is an offshoot of VCU's anthropology department and is headed by department professor Bernard Means. The program is in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense's Legacy Program whose goal is to preserve American history and culture through 3D scanning and technology.
And what better way to preserve America's true history then by focusing on American Indian artifacts? The (very small) R.A.M.S. Crew took a trip to the State Museum of Pennsylvania this past November where they checked out some artifacts, specifically a snake skeleton from an American Indian village and a Paleoindian point. Not terribly interesting at first thought. But what they do with the artifacts is when their work transcends boring.
The Curation Unit scans the objects by means of some pretty sophisticated technology. The MakerBot Replicator works by “creating resin replicas of archaeological items.” Their Next Engine 3D Scanner digitally catalogues the images, giving a more lifelike appearance to the artifacts, allowing a wider audience the opportunity to experience history through their computers.
Visit the Unit's blog to keep up with their latest endeavors and (if you're like me) vicariously live your archaeological life through them.