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Quantitative analysis of pottery from the Tianma-Qucun site based on 3D scanning and computer technology


Quantitative analysis is used to classify pottery ware. This type of analysis is auxiliary and supplementary with respect to traditional archaeology, in which the data used in quantitative analysis are manually measured. The manual approach is slow and inaccurate, and the data extracted for each analysed item do not meet unity standards. Adopting pottery unearthed at the Tianma-Qucun burial site as an example, this article introduces a method for obtaining data using three-dimensional scanning technology and computer programming. The method is fast and accurate, and the analysed data can be loaded in batches. This method overcomes the deficiencies of traditional manual measurement and significantly improves data extraction speed and accuracy. The extracted data are subjected to cluster analysis using multivariate statistical methods to classify the pottery ware. The results are compared with those of traditional typology classification, confirming the feasibility of the method. Thus, the described method represents a research approach.

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The authors would like to thank Kunzhang Ji and Puheng Nan, who work at the Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology.


This work was supported by the University of Science and Technology Beijing, and the Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology.

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Correspondence to Jin Wang.

Additional information

The supplier of Creaform Go!SCAN 20 is AMETEK.

The supplier of VXelements software is AMETEK.

The supplier of Autodesk meshmixer is Autodesk.

The supplier of 3D builder is Microsoft Corporation.

The supplier of OBJ is Alias|Wavefront. OBJ is a file format of 3D model suitable for conversion between 3D models; it can be read and written by Maya.

The supplier of STL is 3D SYSTEMS. STL (stereo lithography) is a file format of 3D images for rapid prototyping technology.

C# is a high-level programming language which is derived from C and C++. It runs Framework and is supplied by Microsoft Corporation.

Hash table is a data structure that can be directly accessed according to a key value.

UG is an interactive CAD/CAM (computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing) system. The supplier of UG is Siemens PLM Software.

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Wang, J., Qian, W., Liu, H. et al. Quantitative analysis of pottery from the Tianma-Qucun site based on 3D scanning and computer technology. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 11, 5645–5656 (2019).

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  • Archaeological pottery
  • Tianma-Qucun site
  • Quantitative analysis
  • 3D scanning
  • Computer programming