Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Anthropology of religion:a forensic reconstruction. The face of St. Anthony of Padua

"(...) There are mystically in our faces certain characters which carry in them the motto of our souls (...)" 

On August 31, 2014 in Brusciano took place the annual "Festa dei Gigli" (lilies party). The protagonist of this celebration, even though we are in Campania, is St. Anthony of Padua. The devotion to this Saint is so strong in the town that the party in his honor is felt by people as more important than the country's patron saint, San Sebastian.
This year's celebration, however, was characterized by an important novelty: one of "Gigli" (Italian for lilies) dedicated to the saint, the "Giglio" of Passo Veloce, led at its peak the effigy of St. Anthony of Padua with its true face.
The "Gigli" are constructions made ​​of poplar, fir and chestnut, in the shape of an obelisk, up to 25 meters and weighing till 50 tons, assembled with nails and rope and decorated with religious scenes. 
The forensic reconstruction of the face of the saint was a team work that has involved, among other institutions, the Museum of Anthropology of the University of Padova (Dr. Nicola Carrara), Arc-Team (Cicero Moraes and Luca Bezzi), the Centro Studi Antoniani (Father Luciano Bertazzo) and Antrocom Onlus (Dr. Moreno Tiziani) and was  presented in Padua during the Antonian June 2014.  
The choice of the devotees of Brusciano is an opportunity of interesting considerations from the point of view of anthropology of religion, which gives us an overview of the relationship that believers have with Italian patron saints. 
The cult of the saints is in fact one of the strongest aspects of religiosity in Italy, being a powerful medium of identity. The Saints are not only representing themselves and their figures are not limited to a religious or hagiographical matter: each saint is primarily a sample of the community which he represents; he is a civic emblem that embodies the character of the city in which he is revered, of the community or the group who elected him as a patron saint and turned him into a "supernatural logo", as well summarized by the anthropologist Marino Niola. He is  a sort of totem, which can inform us about the origin of customs, symbols, characters, and rules of conduct, involving the unique relationship that the saint has with that particular community in that particular area.
It is no coincidence that the day dedicated to the local saint is a festivity day. One day that departs from the others through a series of behaviors which are different from those in use in everyday life: eating differently, dressing differently, following different rhythms given by the holiday.
We have also to consider that, according to popular physiognomy,  there is a correlation between physical features (especially facial), and character traits. The face of St. Anthony, given by the forensic reconstruction of Cicero Moraes, validates the folk imagery of the devotees. In this way the day dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua becomes a ritual representation of the city's tradition, a sacralization of the urban space and an opportunity to rewrite the "identity maps", to rebuild the community in the name of the saint.
Here is how to explain the choice of the believers to use the true face of the saint: the symbolic efficiency of the saint is reinforced by his real look, which embraces the whole community gathered in celebration.

In the video below it is possible to see the "Giglio Passo Veloce" with the statue of St. Athony on his peak (Standard YouTube License by Alessio Italo Jr. d'Alise).

In this image you can see the statue of the saint, done by the sculptor Giacomo D'Alterio and painted by the painter Ilaria Auriemma for the Giglio Passo Veloce of the maker Gerardo Di Palma (photo by Antonio Castaldo).

And here is a panoramic image of the "giglio", done by +Cícero Moraes withe the frame of the video.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Aerial images and videos of the WW1 trenches along the border between Austria and Italy

Hi all,
in the first days of October 2014, after a rainy summer, we have been engaged in taking aerial pictures and videos of the WW1 trenches in the border between Austria and Italy (villages of Kartitsch, Sexten/Sesto Pusteria and Comelico Superiore). The work was insert into a survey project financed by INTERREG funds. The trenches and military structures in the area of the project were mapped using a GPS (Trimble 5700); the most important and better preserved buildings were documented using different software (PPT, MicMac and OpenMVG) and particular hardware (aerial drone).

Thanks to Walter Gilli, our "flight instructor and drone developer", we have a new hexacopter that you can see in the picture below.

The main components are:

- a DJI NAZA-M V2 as flight controller

- a Spektrum DX8 as radio control

- a Sony Nex-7 as camera (24.3 megapixels)

- a StratoSnapper2 for the remote control of the camera (radio/IR)

- an Alexmos Gimsbal controller (2 axis) to stabilize the camera mount

- all mounted on a handmade frame

The video below shows the hexacopter flying in windy conditions. The high quality of the components makes this hexacopter a perfect instrument even in extreme situation.

The video below shows the a flight in optimal condition: a cloudy day without wind. The gimbal stabilizes the camera even during movements, ensuring a high quality result.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Boolean operations - the powerful Cork!

Model created with boolean (Cork) operation using a face and a skull (Taung child)

I always read in 3D modeling websites that Boolean operations were not things that should be part of everyday life for an artist involved with that environment. Besides generating meshes polluted, not always the command works. It just to put a slightly more complex model in the scene for the  algorithm to crash or even have an outcome far, far away from the expected.

Examples of Blender's boolean modifier, union, intersection and difference
But this viewpoint did not survive the advent of 3D printing and evolution of fields such as surgery planning and preparation of prostheses and orthoses. I even had to adapt myself and surrender the facilities offered by Boolean operations, including the forensic facial reconstruction ... where, for example, I use ears ready merging them with a previously sculpted head ... no one deserves to make new ears every modeling :)

Blender, as presented above has a modifier where we can apply Boolean operations, but these operations (although the algorithm shows improvement with each release) lie very far from ideal when we speak of the fields of action above. I suffered a lot when I started teaching classes for students who wish to apply Blender studies in medicine, dentistry, research-oriented human locomotion and prosthesis manufacturing. Everything worked fine, but when we began to enter the area involving the subtraction of a mesh by another ... ah my friends! I assure you that my hair was subtracted before, when they fell because of my concerns, because I never knew the surprise that the Boolean modifier was preparing us.

Model ready to be printed in 3D
Things got really tense when I needed to cut bones with spongy tissue. Besides being a heavy mesh had all the complexity of "an object inside the other," a deadly reality for subtraction of meshes. It was then that I thought a bit, Blender uses a library called CARVE to effect these operations ... then surely there should be alternatives, although they were more verbose in order to manipulate them. Reading a bit, I found a comment from the creator of CloudCompare, a fantastic comparison tool meshes. In this post he quoted a library called Cork, claiming to be interested in adapting it to the software code developed by him.

UPDATED! CloudCompare already have a plugin to use Cork! ->

I entered the Cork's site, downloaded the library and compiled it. For those who were fearful diantes the words "compile", can be carefree because the process is quite simple, just take the GCC, the Clang 3.1+ library and the GMP library (GNU Multi-precision arithmetic library), which are easily installable via apt-get (tested on Ubuntu and soon I will have to compile for Windows and Mac).

Within the directory "samples" comes in two files OFF (Object File Format) format for you to test the software, which works on the command line and is very easy to be used.

The files are two spheres, the (right) and (left). After compiling the program, please refer to the executable, or if you're lazy like me, just copy the files into the just ~/bin (not the system, of course) where is the executable.

Above is the result of an operation, the intersection between ballA and ballB. Follows the command used:

$ ./cork -isct

Where "-isct" is the type of intended operation and the output file. Needless to say, the $ should not be entered because it serves only to inform that it is the terminal.

Above we have the difference operation, where we subtract the ballB of ballB.

$ ./cork -diff

The "-diff" comes from difference. You can order files and reverse (A and B) to produce a different result.

 Finally we have the union operation between two meshes:

$ ./cork -union

Taking the opportunity, it is common that individuals are initiating boolean studies do not understand the difference, for example, the two spheres (first image showing both mesh), a slightly within the other and a mesh created by union (picture above). Basically the difference is that with the "union" we have a clean mesh, with nothing inside their domains than an empty space.

Examples of spheres was used solely for explanation of the operation of Cork. If you need to do simple operations and to manipulate objects in real time ... since they are simple ... I advise you to use Blender. The Cork must be activated in case of using complex meshes, like illustrated the top of the post.

See above how the operations based on the face and the skull of a hominid were made. See how the right plot of the mesh is dense ... it's almost a miracle that the boolean has worked so well!

To make this "miracle" however, you need to export the file in OFF format because the Cork only works with him. If by default Blender does not provide this exporter, the problem can be solved quickly by downloading an add-on created for this purpose.

Tip 1 (gross mode to solve triangulated export):

Before exporting the mesh, please change to edit mode and activate the Triangulate faces through the Ctrl + T command, this will ensure the functioning of operations, since the Cork only works with meshes formed by these elements.

Tip 2 (smart mode):

After I post the link of that material in the discussion group BlenderDEV-BR, the user Dalai Felinto (who wrote the book Game Development with Blender), pointed out that Blender has a modifier that triangulates the mesh, preventing the original object be modified. Thanks for the tip!

Go to Add Modifier -> Triangulate.

However, when I tested the export in default mode I got an error of mesh. To prevent this from happening, take care to keep the "Quad Method" and as the "Ngon Method" both in "Beauty", as in the screenshot above, then yes will work perfectly without errors.


I thank my students Dr. Everton Rosa, Marcia Pietrobon and Dr. Rodrigo Dornelles. Also Hermano Peixoto de Oliveira Junior (CTI Renato Archer), thanks to all these people I search this solution and fortunately I found it, so that is now enabling a number of very interesting projects.

I thank my friend Luís Cláudio Sampaio Marques (patola) which has supported this project sedendo its expertise in 3D printing to validate the projections and even an impression, that will materialize the results.

I thank the creator of Cork, Mr. Gilbert Bernstein for the excellent tool and the attention he has given the experiences that I have done.

I thank the creator of CloudCompare, Daniel Girardeau-Montaut, which besides giving me indirectly hint of Cork, also implemented a plugin  for it to be used directly in application developed by him!

A big hug for all and to you, dear reader. See you next time!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Lavash, the Armenian bread... and Ethnoarchaeology

Hi all,
today we start officially a new collaboration regarding a very important topic in archeology: the food. As archaeologists, often working in our country or in missions abroad, we have the opportunity to collect many interesting data and to  live important experiences related with food and drinking culture (both in Italy or in foreign nations). For this reason we decided to collaborate with an expert in this field, Dr. Lucia Galasso (you can find her websites under the twin blog section of ATOR) , who is working since many years on this important theme and who can use, reuse and analyze the informations we can collect under a different professional perspective and integrate our archaeological point of view.
As you read in this post, +Alessandro Bezzi collected some interesting material about lavash, the typical Armenian bread, and gave us some first overview. In the post I translate today (Italian readers can find the original text here), +Lucia Galasso gives us more information:

Preparation of lavash (photo by Alessandro Bezzi)

"With this post begins a collaboration between the blog ATOR (Arc-Team Open Research), edited by the archaeologists of Arc-Team, and Cultural Evolution. With cross blogging we will work on what is (IMHO) the closest topic to archeology (from an ethnological point of view): ethnoarchaeology and food. I already started this path a few months ago, approaching disciplines such as historical reenactment and experimental archeology, organizing events like "Ancient streets, ancient flavors. Food and hospitality along the way of the Abruzzi ".
According to the Mediterranean tradition (but not only), we will start this adventure through a sacred gesture, sharing the main food, the bread, becoming in this way "compagni" (Italian for comrades), a word derived from "companatico" (Italian for pottage"), which means to be friends who eat the same food.
Arc-team works very often in the Caucasian countries (Armenia and Georgia in particular), being able not only to support the archaeological excavations, but also to get involved in local traditions, which are often related to food and drink.
In Armenia they had the opportunity to observe and to document the process of bread-making of lavash, in a bakery of Yerevan. Lavash is the most popular bread, not only in Armenia, but also in other Caucasian countries, and its origin is very old. It s enough to look at its preparation to understand how this thin and soft bread without leavening, made of wheat flour, water and salt, can help archaeologists through ethnographic analogy, to understand not only the use of related archaeological finds, but also the historical context of the bread-making in these areas (although it must be said that many archaeologists have rejected the use of ethnographic analogies as a source of error and an incorrect analysis of the data). 
However the bread-making of lavash is fascinating: its thin shape (and we know that in bread the shape is always linked to a strong symbolism, or, as the great Alberto Cirese said, "shape does not feed: it conveys informations and not calories") is the result of the work of preparing the dough which is then further flattened against the hot walls of a clay buried oven, called "tonir" in Armenian. The cooking process lasts a few seconds, and gives a bread to be consumed every day as well as on special occasions; during weddings, for example, it is placed on the shoulders of bride and groom to wish fertility.
I leave you with a short movie the archaeologists of Arc-Team provided us, waiting for more news on this fascinating country and customs and eating habits that characterize it."

Author: Lucia Galasso
Translation: Luca Bezzi

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Arc-Team wins a prize in an international conference in Brazil

Dr. Miamoto and the winner poster

Last week, from September 4th to 6th, the 12th Brazilian Congress of Forensic Dentistry took place in Florianópolis. The biennial event featured conferences and workshops by forensic professionals from Brazil, Uruguay, Peru and USA.

The attendees could also submit poster and short oral presentations to compete for the best academic works awards. The oral presentation "Protocol for Forensic Facial Reconstruction with open software: method simplification using MakeHuman" was one of the winners.

In this work, authors Cicero Moraes (Arc-Team member) and Dr. Paulo Miamoto explained how the application of MakeHuman to forensic facial reconstruction can aid this technique by simplifying and individualizing the anatomic modeling process, as well as allowing the operator to adjust the 3D humanoid template to soft tissue pegs and other objective parameters using the Blender export mode.

The winner poster (in Portuguese)
The method was also presented at one of the official conferences of the event by Dr. Miamoto. Moraes, a 3D Designer, and Miamoto, a Forensic Dentist, are members of the NGO "Brazilian Team of Forensic Anthropology and Legal Dentistry - Ebrafol", a non-profit organization that aims the promotion of Human Rights by applying knowledges of the aforesaid sciences. One of Ebrafol's expectations is provide official forensic units with training on 3D technology using open software.

Originally pubblished at:

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Aramus 2014: 2D and 3D documentation of the archaeological excavation

Since 2006 Arc-Team joined the Aramus Project, an international filed school organized by the Universities of Innsbruck (FB Vorderasiatische Archaelogie - Institute of Ancient History and Near Eastern Studies) and Yerevan. The excavation is located in the village of Aramus, in the Kotaik country (Armenia); the main purpose of the Field School is to introduce students to the practice of digital documentation, data recording, survey and archaeological analysis.

We supported the last mission using a combination of three different techniques:

1) bi-dimensional photomapping

To have a fast documentation we use traditional photomapping using the evolution of the Corte Inferiore method based on the single software QuantumGIS 2.2.

Every evening we were able to finish the daily documentation. The picture below shows an example of photomosaic made of 11 images.

2) orthophoto and 3D model (top view) using MicMac

To improve the quality and the accuracy of the documentation we decide to take zenithal pictures and process them inside the suite MicMac. The data acquisition was done keeping vertically the camera and shooting every step moving along a line. After the first line, we move a step forward and repeat the operation proceeding in the opposite direction. The picture below shows the pointcloud (Apero result) with the position of every single shoot (the black arrows rapresent the direction of the movement).

We elaborated the images using the ground geometry approach of Malt. The results are an orthophoto and a DEM of the layer. The picture below shows the difference between a 2D photomosaic and the orthophoto.

The picture below shows the high resolution of the DEM (the white target is a square with side of 3 cm )

Due to the long time in calculation, we were not able to finish all the elaborations during the excavation time.

We want to thanks Hansjörg Ragg (REDcatch GmbH) for the help in finding the best workflow inside MicMac.

3) 3D model (360 degrees) using Python Photogrammetry Toolbox

The ground geometry approach of MicMac is not the best choice when the layer has a complex shape, characterized by different horizontal and vertical faces. That is the reason why we decide to take pictures also for Python Photogrammetry Toolbox (Bundler + CMVS + PMVS2). The picture below shows the difference between MicMac point cloud (ground geometry) and PPT pointcloud.

The data acquisition is really simple: just take pictures from many points of view (picture below), paying attention to cover all the different faces of the layer (at least three images).

The raw point clouds were elaborated inside CloudCompare (cleaning and mesh) and Meshlab (mesh, texturing and reference). The picture below shows the final result of a broken jar.

We were able to elaborate all the documentations during the excavation time.


The three different type of documentation are perfectly compatible with the time of an archaeological excavation. The best  way to work is to acquire first the PPT dataset, than the 2D photomosaic and finally the MicMac images (it has to be the final step because it is necessary to walk over the layer!). The GCP are the same for all the three techniques.

Georeference a mesh using the Reference Scene Tool of Meshlab 1.3.3

Hi all,
i made a new videotutorial on the Reference Scene Tool of Meshlab 1.3.3. I used data from the Aramus Field School, a joint project between University of Innsbruck (Austria) and University of Yerevan (Armenia).
It is upload on the Digital Archaeological Documentation Project (DADP):

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