Blogging the V&A Samarra Material


A new blog, Samarra finds from the Herzfeld Excavation in the Victoria and Albert Museum, is making public the research process of cataloging the Samarra material held by the V&A.

As the site says,

“In 2013, BISI funded a pilot project to research, catalogue, photograph and conserve the V&A’s collections of material excavated by Ernst Herzfeld at Samarra in 1911-1913. This complements related projects underway at the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Berlin) and the Freer-Sackler Gallery (Washington DC), and feeds into a bigger international collaboration to reunite Herzfeld’s Samarra finds. This blog charts the discoveries we hope to make along the way.”

Primarily written by Mariam Rosser-Owen and Rosalind Wade Haddon, the blog offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of an academic research undertaking. Here’s to hoping that more projects start to offer this kind of transparency!

Concerning Dense Point Clouds and Wireframes

So, in addition Microsoft’s Photosynth, a number of new Structure from Motion reconstruction tools have become available recently, most notably Hypr3d and Autodesk’s 123d Catch. These seem to have been prompted primarily by the recent popularization of 3D printing, so their focus is on creating water-tight wireframes. This makes them rather different from Photosynth, which places emphasis on displaying photos at their full resolution rather than assembling them into a textured wireframe.

The great thing about photographing for structure from motion – apart from the weird looks people give you as you take 300 photos of something they might snap once or twice – is that photosets can be dropped into all of these new algorithms, and the reconstruction software is only going to get better. Here are some new models made from photos I took at Qusayr ‘Amra in Jordan and Cappadocia in Turkey: