Printing the Past: 3D Printing and Archaeology

by Jennifer Rickert

Institution: University of Waterloo
Year: 2016
Keywords: Anthropology; Archaeology; Archaeological theory; anthropological theory; 3-D printing; 3D Imaging technology; 3D Printing
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2120637
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10012/10137


3D Printing and 3D imaging technologies are frequent topics of global discussion. We see countless news media posts and academic articles devoted to what the technology is capable of and how it is currently being used. Some authors focus on how the technology can be implemented into existing archaeological frameworks, whereas others focus on breaking down what the technology is capable of producing at this time. Very few are looking into how this technology and its products are affecting global understandings of objects and material culture. In archaeology, this is particularly relevant for how we see, use, and interpret 3D printed replicas of original artifacts, as well as the original archaeological artifacts themselves. Through a review of current discourse on the subject as well as background anthropological, material culture studies, and archaeological theory, this thesis will explore some of the ways in which archaeology as a discipline needs to begin to think about how using such technology will change our relationships with artifacts, and that indeed it already has. By focusing on one of three potential archaeological sub-foci, research and education, this paper argues the need for archaeologists to consider what 3D imaging will do for the future of archaeological material digitization and questions of information accessibility.