Undergrad Research: Innovative 3D modeling projects to restore archaeological ceramic specimens
Adrian Cremin | 05/15/2021

Recently, the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) was shortlisted for the finals of the 16th Challenge Cup Science and Technology Competition in Guangdong Province. Students involved in the Archaeological Ceramics Database of the Center for Social Sciences submitted their project, entitled “The application of 3D scanning, printing and modeling technology in the digitalized restoration of archaeological ceramic specimens.”

The project relies on the Archaeological Ceramics Database of the Cultural Heritage Laboratory at SUSTech. Based on sorting, classifying, and merging a large number of archaeological ceramic fragment specimens, the data of cultural relic specimens are extracted through 3D scanning and then the Iterative closest point (ICP) algorithm .

Machine learning and other techniques are used to realize the digitalized restoration of archaeological ceramic specimens. Combined with the 3D printing technology, the restoration results can be used for research, display, and education.

There are six members in the project team, which are Mengru LIU, Chenxi LAN, Zeyang LIU, Shilong LI, Yijie TONG, and Haotian FANG. They are all undergraduates of SUSTech, coming from different disciplines. The project has already received approval from the provincial key funding project of the 2020 Guangdong Province Climbing Plan.

Since May 2019, the Center for Social Sciences at SUSTech has been working with provincial and municipal archaeological institutions to build and share the database of archaeological ceramic specimens. It aims to preserve ceramic pieces as a cultural resource, establish regional and national ceramic specimen databases through the comprehensive, systematic, scientific, planned, and purposeful collection and arrangement, and carry out multidisciplinary research while also putting them on display.

Their groundbreaking work has been strongly supported by fellow archaeological institutions within China. It has received more than 30,000 ceramic pieces from more than 20 cities and provinces within China and also historical ceramic artifacts from 10 different countries.

SUSTech ranks first in the country for the list of universities and institutions that hold important cultural relic resources for teaching and research purposes. On December 5, 2020, the Center for Social Sciences held the opening ceremony of “Ceramic Stories”, a database of archaeological ceramic specimens that shares archaeological ceramic pieces.

The Challenge Cup is a national college students’ extracurricular academic competition that is co-sponsored by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC), China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), Ministry of Education (MoE), All-China Students Federation (ACSF) and local provincial governments.

It is held every two years and is known as the technological innovation and entrepreneurship of Chinese college students. The finals of the Challenge Cup for Guangdong Province will take place in Shenzhen on May 29-30, 2021.