New scanner quickens the documentation of small finds

The LAP can significantly speed up the documentation of small standard finds. (Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

Detailed and accurate documentation of finds is a must on every archaeological excavation. However, where many small objects, for example ceramic fragments, are unearthed, this documentation can be very time-consuming. In order to simplify and quicken this process, at least for standard small-sized finds, the Technical Platform now provides a laser aided profile scanner (LAP) for all colleagues within the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. The device uses a laser to measure cross-sections and outlines of sherds and other small finds. A camera additionally takes photographs of the object. The data is compiled and processed in a software specially developed for archaeological applications. With it users can, for example, perform statistical evaluations of the scanned finds or prepare images for publications.

The device was developed by archaeologists in Slovakia and has since become an established tool on many international archaeological project. It can be stored in a portable case and is therefore easy to transport. It is also robust enough to be used on excavations.

"With a little experience, you need four to five minutes to record a sherd with the scanner," says ROOTS doctoral student Fynn Wilkes. "The scanner doesn't completely replace technical drawings, but it does simplify documentation especially for standard finds that occur en masse. This leaves more time to precisely document decorated pottery or other more complex objects."

Anyone who wishes to use the scanner can book it via the internal online booking portal.
More information about the LAP:

A laser captures the outlines of the small finds.
(Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

Ceramic scan of a sherd from the Opovo site, made with a similar LAP. The new ROOTS device, however, has a newer camera with better resolution.


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions