The location and integrity of the remains, with respect to individual deposits and the cave’s overall morphology, are essential to reconstructing the natural and cultural processes that resulted in the formation of this unique site as well as provide essential temporal information. The deep and remote nature of the site requires the use of specialized documentation techniques in to fully record the site and all its elements in three dimensions.
Structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry, as a means by which 3D reconstructions can be generated from 2D photographs, has been widely adopted as an accessible and empowering technique for rapid documentation and visualization of archaeological sites, features, and objects. However, its application in underwater environments presents certain physical and methodological challenges. For Hoyo Negro, these include total darkness, complex bathymetry, and limited bottom-time (in addition to the distortion issues inherent to underwater photography).
The implementation of different image acquisition methodologies at different scales (site, feature, object) has resulted in geometrically accurate and complementary models of cave features as well as individual skeletal elements. These 3D digital (and printable) models have proven critical to current and ongoing anatomical and taphonomic analyses. These data will not only serve as documentation of the site, but our point-based visual analytics capability will enable project researchers from across disciplines to evaluate and annotate the imagery remotely while guiding subsequent sampling and recovery activities.