Online presentation of the digital reconstruction process of a megalithic tomb : “3Duewelsteene”
3Duewelsteene - A website for the 3D visualization of the megalithic passage grave Düwelsteene near Heiden in Westphalia, Germany
Recommendation: posted 01 February 2024, validated 12 February 2024
Schmidt, S. and Allison, J. (2024) Online presentation of the digital reconstruction process of a megalithic tomb : “3Duewelsteene”. Peer Community in Archaeology, 100331. 10.24072/pci.archaeo.100331
“3Duewelsteene - A website for the 3D visualization of the megalithic passage grave Düwelsteene near Heiden in Westphalia, Germany” (Tharandt 2024) presents several 3-dimensional models of the Düwelsteene monument, along with contextual information about the grave and the process of creating the models. The website (https://3duewelsteene.github.io/) includes English and German versions, making it accessible to a wide audience. The website itself serves as the primary means of presenting the data, rather than as a supplement to a written text. This is an innovative and engaging way to present the research to a wider public.
Düwelsteene (“Devil’s Stones”) is a megalithic passage grave from the Funnel Beaker culture, dating to approximately 3300 BC. to 2600 BC. that was excavated in 1932. The website displays three separate 3-dimensional models. They ares shown in the 3D viewer software 3DHOP, which enables viewers to interact with the models in several ways, Annotations on the models display further information.
The first model was created by image-based modeling and shows the monument as it appears today.
A second model uses historical photographs and excavation data to reconstruct the grave as it appeared prior to the 1932 archaeological excavation. Restoration work following the excavation relocated many of the stones. Pre-1932 photographs collected from residents of the nearby town of Heiden were then used to create a model showing what the tomb looked like before the restoration work. It is commendable that a “certainty view” of the model shows the certainty with which the stones can be put at the reconstructed place. Gaps in the 3D models of stones that were caused by overlap with other stones have been filled with a rough mesh and marked as such, thereby differentiating between known and unknown parts of the stones.
The third model is the most imaginative and most interesting. As it shows as the grave as it might have appeared in approximately 3000 B.C., many aspects of this model are necessarily somewhat speculative. There is no direct evidence for exact size and shape of the capstones, the height of the mound, and other details. But enough is known about other similar constructions to allow these details to be inferred with some confidence. Again, care was taken to enable viewers to distinguish between the stones that are still in existence and those that were reconstructed.
A video on the home page of the website adds a nice touch. It starts with the model of the Düwelsteene as it currently appears then shows, in reverse order, the changes to the grave, ending with the inferred original state.
The 3D reconstructions are convincing and the methods well described. This project follows an open science approach and the FAIR principles, which is commendable and cutting edge in the field of Digital Archaeology. The preprint of the website hosted on zenodo includes all the photos, text, html files, and nine individual 3D model (.ply) files that are combined in the reconstructions exhibited on the website. A “readme.md” file includes details about building the models using CloudCompare and Blender, and modifications to the 3D viewer software (3DHOP) to get the website to improve the display of the reconstructions. We have to note that the link between the reconstructed models and the html page does not work when the files are downloaded from zenodo and opened offline. The html pages open in the browser, and the individual ply files work fine, but the 3D models do not display on the browser page when the html files are opened offline. The online version of the website is working perfectly.
The 3Düwelsteene website combines the presentation of archaeological domain knowledge to a lay audience as well as in-depths information on the reconstruction process to make it an interesting contribution for researchers. By providing data and code for the website it also models an Open Science approach, which enables other researchers to re-use these materials. We congratulate the author on a successful reconstruction of the megalithic tomb, an admirable presentation of the archaeological work and the thoughtful outreach to a broad audience.
Tharandt, L., 3Duewelsteene - A website for the 3D visualization of the megalithic passage grave Düwelsteene near Heiden in Westphalia, Germany, https://3duewelsteene.github.io/, Zenodo, 7948379, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Archaeology. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7948379
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article. The authors declared that they comply with the PCI rule of having no financial conflicts of interest in relation to the content of the article.
The author declares that they have received no specific funding for this study
Evaluation round #2
DOI or URL of the preprint: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.8352343
Version of the preprint: 2
Author's Reply, 01 Jan 2024
Decision by Sophie C. Schmidt and James Allison, posted 14 Nov 2023, validated 15 Nov 2023
The very positive reviews of the website speak of a great contribution to the communication of archaeological review to a wider public and an innovative way to present a master thesis project. This second version of the pre-print has been improved regarding most of the topics mentioned by the reviews of the first round. Thank you!
The reviewers suggest some further changes to the website. The most important thing is that the 3D models apparently don’t load properly. The recommenders ran into the same problem as the reviewer. That problem obviously needs to be fixed before we can recommend the contribution. We agree that the other suggested changes (see esp. review by Scott Ure) would improve the visitor experience, but we do not think they are necessary for accepting the website as a valuable contribution to the CAA proceedings. Should it be possible, we would welcome a link to the MA thesis as suggested by Ronald Visser, but again, for a recommendation only the technical problem regarding the 3D models needs to be fixed.
Reviewed by Ronald Visser, 20 Oct 2023
Reviewed by Scott Ure, 16 Oct 2023
Reviewed by Robert Bischoff, 18 Oct 2023
Evaluation round #1
DOI or URL of the preprint: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7948380
Version of the preprint: 1
Author's Reply, 17 Sep 2023
Decision by Sophie C. Schmidt and James Allison, posted 18 Jul 2023, validated 19 Jul 2023
The website on the Düwelsteene has been positively commented upon by all three reviewers. All agree that it is a very suitable way to present the research to a wider public and that the reconstructions were very well developed. It has been commended to follow an open science approach and the FAIR principles, though the metadata could be imroved upon.
There is some concern regarding the depth of information presented, as it seems to be geared to a general public without specifying so. We recommend adding some content regarding the methods, the workflows and the interpretation to make it more useful to other archaeologists. Detailed comments by the reviewers won’t be repeated here. Though we agree that a separate scientific paper would be a valuable further step in the publication of this research, we do not find this to be needed at this stage.
We also recommend to revise the English version (see esp. comments by Robert Bischoff) and maybe add a main menu (see comments by Scott Ure). The German website version is fine, but of course it should be updated as much as the English website.