Living Archeology by 3D Printing

An Ancient Heritage Coming Back to Life

Archaeological pieces mesmerize and hold their own magic and particularly so if they are associated with a crucial point in history of certain cultures or peoples. Hence, finding them creates a frenzy in the archaeological world; to be able to see them, to touch and study them are gratifying for scholars, collectors or plain enthusiasts. But there are limits to what one can feasibly do with great finds, especially those of great rarity. Such as, the potential risk of destroying the piece.

One such object of value is the now renown Rider of Unlingen. It is a figure of a man on horseback, all bronze, sitting astride a double horse with broken legs, indicating that it must have been part of a larger base. The figure was first discovered by an Austrian miner in the 19th century in a prehistoric cemetery of a thousand burial sites.

Believed to contain the remains of people who lived and died in this area of Hallstatt, Austria, between 800 and 500 BCE, many of the sites and others nearby have already been looted. Why and how the civilization abruptly ended are not known, but the striking thing is that representations of human figures during this period is extremely unusual. Hence, the Rider of Unlingen is a very rare find.

The object is one of the oldest representations of a mounted rider from north of the Alps and as such vital to understanding the area’s cultural history. Naturally, its examination and study, handling and transport are strictly limited. Due to the risk of damage, direct access to it is downsized, exhibits and expositions for it are well monitored. Creating replicas out of molds add to the risks as well.

Now 3D printing has changed the course of the rare Rider of Unlingen. With the use of x-ray computer tomography or CT scan, a 3D digital model was created then evaluated using VGSTUDIO MAX 3.0 software. The resulting STL file was then ready for 3D printing, significantly allowing more people to access the object and greatly reducing reproduction cost. 3D printing made possible that this rare artifact be displayed in two different museums.

The resultant 3D-printed replica had a very high level of detail and precision, life-like and true to the original without the feeling of plastic. It can hence be examined in detail more often by more handlers, making further research possible. It is just amazing how an object of rarity, born out of the 7th century, be reproduced by 21st century powder.

Preserving Archeology in Seattle

See how great pieces of history and cultures gone by are replicated via the wonders of 3D printing. If you are such a fan of great historical artifacts, you can have a room full of it by 3D printing your favorites at your 3D printing company in Seattle. Talk to us about it.