Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bring 3D Archaeology and History Into the Classroom


Sketchfab.com is one of the premier 3D resource sharing sites at the moment. Personally, it's our favorite: the site is engaging, interactive, and easy to use. Sketchfab doesn't focus on one type of end-user, which is a strength, but today we wanted to highlight some great 3D collections for educators. Sketchfab hosts a great selection of models from museums and cultural sites across the globe. And it keeps growing! 



 Because Sketchfab is hosting the models and uses WebGL (which most browsers you're using support already-no need to download a thing) there's not a lot you have to know or do besides point and click. Other great features of Sketchfab allow the creators of models to add annotations to the models, sound (such as narration), and even make them viewable in virtual reality. Many models can be downloaded which means you can pop that file onto a thumb drive and get it printed out in a 3D printer, which you might have in your school or local library. Ever wanted a copy of the Rosetta Stone or a Hoa Hakananai'a? No problem. 

Below is a list of a few fantastic 3D model collections on Sketchfab. The site of course has a search function and users do a great job of tagging models with keywords, so if you don't see something that you were hoping to see here then be sure to scour the site a little more. Below, however, we've picked some favorites that we think will help you bring a lesson alive in the classroom. 

Great Florida Collections


FPAN-We're right there in the mix! FPAN's collection focuses on Florida artifacts and sites. As often as we can we add annotations and links to additional info, such as our free lesson plans.


USF Libraries Digital Heritage and Humanities Collections - The crew at USF is doing some of the most cutting edge work in 3D digital heritage. Here you'll find Florida-centric sites and artifacts as well as some of their research work from places afar afield as Armenia. 

The Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research - While this collection is just getting started, you'll want to stay tuned for more updates from the state's archaeological collection.


Outside of Florida Collections

The Virtual Curation Lab - Housed at Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Means and his students have one of the biggest collections on Sketchfab with a variety of models. Everything from mastodon skulls to eating implements from Washington's boyhood home can be found here.


The British Museum - Some of the greats of the British Museum can be found in their Sketchfab collection. Haven't had a chance to gaze into the abyss with Ozymandias yet? Do it from the comfort of your own classroom here.


RMN-Grand Palais - Objects and works of art from the French National Museums' collections. Everything from Upper Paleolithic Venus figurines to interactive Gauguin displays.


Iconem - This collection highlights cultural heritage in danger of destruction. A great place to look for conversation pieces about loss of cultural sites in places like the Middle East.


DigVentures - Especially good collection for taking a peek at an archaeological site as it is being excavated. Much of the collection appears to focus on UK heritage sites.


CyArk - While not a large collection, CyArk focuses on endangered heritage sites and were among some of the first in the archaeological community to bring 3D scanning to the public. Here you'll find everything from rock art in Africa to Mount Rushmore. Good spread, huh?


RLA Archaeology - The Research Laboratories of Archaeology at UNC Chapel Hill have a giant collection of artifacts that focus on some historic, but mostly prehistoric artifacts of the U.S. southeast. 


Maritime Archaeology Trust - A UK group that has some of the best shipwrecks that side of the Atlantic. They've even thrown in a few terrestrial sites and, for good measure we presume, early hominid skulls. 


NNFA - Plenty of historic ships modeled in this collection from a Norwegian boating museum. 


The Discovery Programme - At the Centre for Advanced Irish Archaeological Research has a great selection of stunning models focused on Irish history; everything from individual artifacts to entire archaeological sites.


All At Your Fingertips!

This list could go on and on, Sketchfab is the home to hundreds of thousands of models at this point and a good portion of those are being generated by cultural institutions, historians, and archaeologists. Be sure to browse these collections and don't be afraid to make requests. Bring these into the classroom the next time you're talking about archaeological sites half a world away, or right in our back yard. You're sure to grab the attention of your classroom with just a few easy clicks.

Text: Kevin Gidusko
Images: Sketchfab 

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