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My research started during the summer of 2014 with a joint internship at VCU’s Virtual Curation Lab and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources under the supervision of Dr. Bernard K. Means and Katherine Ridgway. The purpose of my research was to conduct a comparative study between the virtual and physical process of mending, or repairing, artifacts. I was granted access to three different vessel fragments which were improperly mended in the 1960s. It was my goal to remove the previous adhesive adhered to the sherds and replace it with a safer adhesive. Simultaneously, I brought the previously mended sherds into the Virtual Curation Laboratory to scan them into the three-dimensional computer software using the NextEngine 3D scanner. I used three-dimensional technology to experiment with different additive and subtractive methods in order to virtually mend the sherds and print out interactive replicas. I continued to take advantage of the interactive potential of three-dimensional technology to connect the public to my findings on a kinetic level. I used 3D technology to print puzzle games of various difficulty in order to allow the public to attempt physical mending themselves and then compare their results to the virtual mends. The first workshop I conducted using the interactive potential of my research received an enormously positive response from the public, whom had previously not shown much interest in my studies. Instead of reading about research, the community was able to learn, hands-on, the same way I learned. This process granted all individuals the ability to draw the same conclusions I drew myself. Three-dimensional technology allows for a deeper comprehension of the research process which makes learning more fun and memorable. Additionally, it evolves the current standards of research presentation methods into a tangible, interactive relationship with the public. With 3D technology not only are more research questions available to answer, but the educational benefits of kinetic learning are also applicable for all ages. With credit to three-dimensional technology, transforming the presentation of my archaeological research from primarily an academic audience to a public audience has expanded the communal comprehension of my findings. This allows for better communication and interaction with those in both academic and non-academic fields and broadens the potential for future use of three-dimensional technology in archaeology.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)



Anthropology, Archaeology, 3D, Print, Mend, Physical, Virtual, Kinetic


Archaeological Anthropology

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Bernard K. Means


© The Author(s)

Beyond the Horizon: The Limitless Potential of 3D Technology in Archaeology