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Keywords:

  • three-dimensional photogrammetry;
  • surface scanning;
  • virtual anthropology;
  • precision

ABSTRACT

This study assessed three-dimensional (3D) photogrammetry as a tool for capturing and quantifying human skull morphology. While virtual reconstruction with 3D surface scanning technology has become an accepted part of the paleoanthropologist's tool kit, recent advances in 3D photogrammetry make it a potential alternative to dedicated surface scanners. The principal advantages of photogrammetry are more rapid raw data collection, simplicity and portability of setup, and reduced equipment costs. We tested the precision and repeatability of 3D photogrammetry by comparing digital models of human crania reconstructed from conventional, 2D digital photographs to those generated using a 3D surface scanner. Overall, the photogrammetry and scanner meshes showed low degrees of deviation from one another. Surface area estimates derived from photogrammetry models tended to be slightly larger. Landmark configurations generally did not cluster together based upon whether the reconstruction was created with photogrammetry or surface scanning technology. Average deviations of landmark coordinates recorded on photogrammetry models were within the generally allowable range of error in osteometry. Thus, while dependent upon the needs of the particular research project, 3D photogrammetry appears to be a suitable, lower-cost alternative to 3D imaging and scanning options. Am J Phys Anthropol 154:152–158, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.