COMPUTER VISION PHOTOGRAMMETRY FOR UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE RECORDING IN A LOW-VISIBILITY ENVIRONMENT
Keywords: Computer Vision, Photogrammetry, Recording, Underwater Archaeology, Shipwrecks, Agisoft PhotoScan
Abstract. Computer Vision Photogrammetry allows archaeologists to accurately record underwater sites in three dimensions using simple twodimensional picture or video sequences, automatically processed in dedicated software. In this article, I share my experience in working with one such software package, namely PhotoScan, to record a Dutch shipwreck site. In order to demonstrate the method’s reliability and flexibility, the site in question is reconstructed from simple GoPro footage, captured in low-visibility conditions. Based on the results of this case study, Computer Vision Photogrammetry compares very favourably to manual recording methods both in recording efficiency, and in the quality of the final results. In a final section, the significance of Computer Vision Photogrammetry is then assessed from a historical perspective, by placing the current research in the wider context of about half a century of successful use of Analytical and later Digital photogrammetry in the field of underwater archaeology. I conclude that while photogrammetry has been used in our discipline for several decades now, for various reasons the method was only ever used by a relatively small percentage of projects. This is likely to change in the near future since, compared to the ‘traditional’ photogrammetry approaches employed in the past, today Computer Vision Photogrammetry is easier to use, more reliable and more affordable than ever before, while at the same time producing more accurate and more detailed three-dimensional results.