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Exploring Applications of 3D Printing in Archaeology for Education, Public Outreach, and Museum Exhibits [Deeper Digs]

When: June 05, 2024 1:00-3:00 PM ET

Duration: 2 hours

Certification: RPA-certified


Individual Registration: $99 for SAA members; $149 for non-members

Group Registration: $139 for SAA members; $189 for non-members

Bernard K. Means, PhD, RPA, Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Means's scholarly pursuits include reconstructing American Indian village spatial and social organizations, the research potential of archaeological collections, and the history of archaeology across the Americas, especially during the Great Depression. Dr. Means is also director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory, which is creating three-dimensional (3-D) digital models of historical, archaeological and paleontological objects used for teaching, research, and public outreach from across the Americas as well as northern India. He has 3-D scanned Ice Age animal bones from across North America, including some that were collected by Thomas Jefferson and a mastodon tooth that belonged to Ben Franklin and found in Philadelphia. Dr. Means is the author of Circular Villages of the Monongahela Tradition (2007) and editor of and contributor to the Shovel Ready: Archaeology and Roosevelt’s New Deal for America (2013), as well as numerous articles on the Monongahela tradition, New Deal archaeology, and applications of three dimensional (3-D) scanning and printing to archaeology, especially public outreach.

Three-dimensional (3-D) printing is increasingly infiltrating all aspects of society, from manufacturing and medicine to STEM education on K-12 levels. This seminar will explore the basics of 3-D printing and how archaeologists can integrate 3-D models and printed materials into all aspects of their discipline, from the field to the laboratory, and into the classroom and the museum. Particular attention will be paid to the following areas:

  • How digital 3-D models enhance identification of artifacts and ecofacts in the field and laboratory over 2-D drawings or photographs
  • How 3-D printed replicas expand opportunities for teaching and research at all levels of education, but especially for undergraduate teaching
  • How 3-D printed replicas can be incorporated into public outreach programs, maximizing access to the past, while minimizing risks to fragile heritage
  • How 3-D printed replicas can be integrated into museum exhibits to create a more interactive and tactile element

The 3-D printed past is not something from the far-off archaeological future but should be seen as very much a part of the archaeological present.

1. Describe the basic types of 3-D printers and finding a cost-effective solution to 3-D printing needs
2. Explain where to find or how to create your own digital 3-D archaeological models for printing
3. Explore ways to integrate 3-D printed replicas into all aspects of archaeological pedagogy and outreach