Geometric documentation of underwater archaeological sites

Eleni Diamanti, Andreas Georgopoulos, Fotini Vlachaki


Photogrammetry has often been the most preferable method for the geometric documentation of monuments, especially in cases of highly complex objects, of high accuracy and quality requirements and, of course, budget, time or accessibility limitations. Such limitations, requirements and complexities are undoubtedly features of the highly challenging task of surveying an underwater archaeological site. This paper is focused on the case of a Hellenistic shipwreck found in Greece at the Southern Euboean gulf, 40-47 meters below the sea surface. Underwater photogrammetry was chosen as the ideal solution for the detailed and accurate mapping of a shipwreck located in an environment with limited accessibility. There are time limitations when diving at these depths so it is essential that the data collection time is kept as short as possible. This makes custom surveying techniques rather impossible to apply. However, with the growing use of consumer cameras and photogrammetric software, this application is becoming easier, thus benefiting a wide variety of underwater sites. Utilizing cameras for underwater photogrammetry though, poses some crucial modeling problems, due to the refraction effect and further additional parameters which have to be co-estimated [1]. The applied method involved an underwater calibration of the camera as well as conventional field survey measurements in order to establish a reference frame. The application of a three-dimensional trilateration using common tape measures was chosen for this reason. Among the software that was used for surveying and photogrammetry processing, were Site Recorder SE, Eos Systems Photomodeler, ZI’s SSK and Rhinoceros. The underwater archaeological research at the Southern Euboean gulf is a continuing project carried out by the Hellenic Institute for Marine Archaeology (H.I.M.A.) in collaboration with the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, under the direction of the archaeologist G.Koutsouflakis. The geometric documentation of the shipwreck was the result of the collaboration between H.I.M.A. and the National Technical University of Athens.


underwater photogrammetry, trilateration, underwater camera calibration, vi- sualization, orthophotomosaics, 3D reconstruction, ancient shipwreck


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