A Trip to the Highlands: Image-Based Modelling of Rock Art at Avencal I

Over the summer I travelled to Brazil as part of my doctoral research on cremated human remains from Jê sites in the southern Brazilian highlands. During the trip I spent several weeks at GRUPEP, our partner lab, analysing cremated bones from the archaeological site Abreu and Garcia. I also took a road trip back up to the highlands to revisit sites of the Serra Catarinense.

Cascata do Avencal (Priscilla Ulguim CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Cascata do Avencal (Priscilla Ulguim CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

You can read more about the full trip here (or in Portuguese), but one particular site I visited was Avencal I. This is interpreted as a ritual site and has different forms of engraved rock art, first recorded by archaeologists in the 1960s and 1970s, and more recently investigated by project participant Rafael Corteletti (RTI data in Riris and Corteletti 2015, and 2016 fieldwork photos here). The Avencal waterfall is visible from the site, which is set in a beautiful valley close to Urubici.

Recently, I’ve been writing up research for publication on the application image-based modelling using Structure from Motion – Multi-View Stereo algorithms in archaeology. So we decided to collect images of the engravings at Avencal I to verify the capability of different devices for rock art data capture.

The lighting at the site on a clear day is excellent; several of the larger panels are fully illuminated in the afternoon sun which made it easy to gather high quality images of the petroglyphs.

Now I’ve had some time to process the data, you can find a model of the engravings in Panels 3, 4 and 5 on SketchFab. Highlights include some of the larger geometric and anthropomorphic designs which were engraved into prepared surfaces on the rock face.

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