For 20 years, Professor Martin Bell and the University of Reading have been excavating in the Severn Estuary revealing a remarkable submerged prehistoric landscape. Discoveries hint on the Mesolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age land-use strategies in this exceptional environment. Probably most extraordinary are the ancient footprints of wandering Mesolithic hunter-gatherers that are preserved in the landscape.
Found in the intertidal zone of the estuary, sites are only exposed for a few hours during (spring) tides and they are under a permanent threat of erosion. The research conditions in this environment are challenging and require efficient, high-resolution recording techniques, allowing an ex-situ visualization and ‘preservation’ of these remarkable hints of human presence.
To assess the possibilities and limitations of image-based 3D modeling for the recording of these Mesolithic footprints, we conducted a preliminary study on a modern footprint. The figure illustrates a digital surface model (DSM) derived from the 3D model of the modern footprint. Especially the DSM nicely shows the morphology of a human footprint. Even the movement can be read from the model. The heel first touching the sand, followed by the front of the foot, pushing the sand backwards and lifting up again with a deep imprint of the toes.
The video shows the 3D model of the modern footprint.