One of the main types of artifacts found during excavations in the Caribbean are ceramic sherds. They are the remains of different types of vessels used by the indigenous populations for various purposes. Archaeologists are interested in pottery remains for their potential to help explain cultural practices, but also because similarities among assemblages of pottery can serve as a proxy to reconstruct relationships between sites and islands in the Caribbean.
Therefore, each sherd that is found during the excavation is documented in a database. Many attributes such as the diameter of the pot, the shape of the vessel, the lip shape, the color and a variety of other features are recorded. Unfortunately, most of the sherds found are quite small, and it is very rare to find a complete vessel. So in order to get a better impression of what the pots originally looked like, I created a web-based tool to virtually reconstruct the complete pots based on these database entries.
This enables archaeologists to visualize the types of pots that were once used on a site. It also has potential use for community outreach, for example in school projects or interactive museum exhibitions. If you want to try out the beta version of the PotBuilder for yourself, you can do this here.
The next step in this project will be to create 3D-prints of the pots. These 3D models can contribute to study how people perceive differences between the pots. More on that soon…