You are on page 1of 12

Preacher’s Cave High Definition Survey and 3D Laser Scanning Project, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Introduction: This report presents the results of a High Definition Survey and three-dimensional laser scanning of the Preacher’s Cave site located in Eleuthera, Bahamas. This project was undertaken at the direction of Robert Carr, Executive Director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, who is conducting on-going archaeological investigations at the cave site. Description of Global Positioning System and Laser Scanning Workflow: Data was collected during two field days on February 2nd and 3rd, 2006. A site visit was made on February 1st, which allowed for reconnaissance and choice of scan set-up locations to maximize the site coverage. A Leica 3000 HDS Scanner was used in the current study to perform a terrestrial laser scanning survey of Preacher’s Cave. Accuracies of +/-6mm at 50m in the x, y, and z dimensions were attained. The scanner captures data in a 360° x 270° field-of-view, and a total of six set-ups were utilized to obtain coverage of the cave site. The real world coordinates are tied into controls established using Global Positioning Systems Real-Time Kinematic Surveying (GPS-RTK) techniques. The point clouds gathered for the future study would be registered in the Cyclone software version 5.4. Laser scanning was chosen as a method of recording the Preachers Cave site as it is a nondestructive technique that offers three-dimensional documentation which includes visualization and measurement capabilites. The scanned data can be tied to real world coordinates and used for virtual recording and analysis within a geographic information system (GIS). Using GIS, pattern analysis, detailed topographic mapping and spatial correlations can be analyzed. Previously collected data and location information such as established benchmarks and coordinates, field specimen and archaeological test areas and denoted features can be added to the developed GIS and included in the current analysis, with a spatial database that can be updated as information at the site continues to be collected. Scanning was an ideal method for the cave setting, as the laser can be used in all lighting conditions and can even be performed in full darkness. Unlike conventional line-of-sight total station measurements which can be a time consuming way of collecting x, y, and z locations, the laser scanner collects millions of measurements with a high degree of speed and accuracy and can be viewed in three dimensions. The work flow for the Preachers Cave Laser Scanning Project consisted of:
1) Field reconnaissance—this included the logistics of scanner transport, setup, and the drawing a site map for guidance in the placement of the scanner and targets. 2) Establishment of geographic controls utilizing existing benchmarks from previous survey work at Preachers Cave and through the use of GPS surveying methods.

3) Extensive photographic documentation of the cave site to be utilized to ensure accurate interpretations of the laser scan data, and to use as photo drapes when appropriate for contextualizing the scan data. 4) Set-up of the targets to ensure maximum overlap and registration of the scan data with known locations. Five targets were used in the current study, with each scan view ‘seeing’ a minimum of at least three targets in each of the six scan set-ups performed. 5) Post-processing of the data that was recorded by the laser scanner. This includes a reduction of the dataset to include just the areas identified as being of interest. During the post-processing, a quality control analysis is also performed, which assesses the accuracy and precision of the recorded data. Finally, the data is exported to a variety of formats for analysis in other GIS and 3D modeling software. Two dimensional images of the scan data and areas of interest were prepared for inclusion in this preliminary report, and post-processing continues on the data to analyze areas of investigative interest. As new findings occur at Preachers Cave, the model can be updated to include spatial locations, and can also be utilized for a number of visualization, pattern analysis and measurement needs. The three-dimensional data can also be processed and provided in a viewable format for interpretive development and understanding for the use and modification of the landscape through time. The Scanning Field Procedure: Scanner set-ups consisted of six locations, two outside of the cave and four set-ups in the interior portion of the cave. These set-ups utilized five laser targets, which were established inside the cave structure, with each scan set-up in view of a minimum of three targets (Figure 1). The laser targets are used in the locational registration of the scan data, and provide spatial control for the scanning and georeference to a real-world position when combined with the GPS data collected. Target set-up is crucial to the quality of the post-processing by allowing each scan set-up to be registered in reference to the other scan set-up positions. Sub-meter, differential GPS was utilized to collect locational data of features on the site including intial scan set up position outside of the cave, previous benchmark locations (Figure 2), and features such as solution holes located on the ceiling of the cave and accessed from above the cave (Figure 3) and areas of planned improvements to the site (Figure 4). A Trimble ProXR unit with a TSC1 datalogger was utilized in the current project, utilizing a manual 3D position mode, and taking a minimum of 90 positions on each acquired point location. Scan set up locations were chosen to work in conjunction with spatial documentation requirements for the on-going archaeological work at Preachers Cave. Detailed topographic mapping and modeling of the cave floor surface was one goal established for the scanning project. Hand drawn maps were previously made of the floor surface, with coordinates assigned to archaeological feature locations. Future processing of the scan data will enable the inclusion of these feature locations with the new detailed surface model developed in the current project. This topographical model also serves as a precise documentation of the original surface of the cave floor prior to any further disturbance

Figure 1. Target placement. Target 4 Target 5

Target 3

Target 2

Target 1

Figure 2. Previous Benchmark Locations.

Figure 3. GPS Documentation of solution holes on ceiling of cave.

Figure 4. Proposed Improvements.

from archaeological excavation. The developed topographical model of the floor surface also portrays and preserves an exact representation using a Cartesian coordinate system which can be georeferenced to a real world location. The previous mapping of the floor and archaeological features was performed using an arbitrary established coordinate system for the site, and was not able to capture the floor detail with the same degree of accuracy, precision and detail, but is useful in depicting feature locations which will be used in the current study (Figure 5). Figure 5. Previous mapping of the cave floor compared to the current study.

Other areas of site documentation included the front ‘pulpit area’ and the front facing rock area with concentration on a section containing several historic period cut nails and having a feint area of engraving (Figures 6 and 7). Nail pattern analysis from this area was performed during the preliminary data post-processing and the engraved area was enhanced. A total of 19 nails are in the face of the rock, with 15 of these having surface expression that could be easily seen in the preliminary post-processing of the data. Four of the nails were broken off in the rock and data processing will continue to allow the addition of these points in the current study.

Figure 6. Nail and engraved area pattern analysis.

Figure 7. Photodrape of front ‘pulpit’ area of cave showing nail and engraving features.

Scan set-ups were also performed in the back and mid-point portions of the cave, including a close range scan on a rock face under a large solution hole which may have other feint engraved areas. These scan views are still being post-processed and are not available for review in this preliminary report. Additionally, a scan from outside the cave was performed on an area with possible rock art dating to the earlier Taino period. These scan views will be made available for analysis as post-processing of the data continues. The scans will also provide three dimensional visualizations, which will be made available in digital format upon completion of the post-processing and can be utilized to view the cave in a spatially accurate platform and can assist with interpretive development and archaeological spatial pattern analysis. The overall raw or largely unprocessed data depicts the cave configuration in highly accurate detail, and will be of future use to the on-going heritage management and archaeological research at Preachers Cave (Figure 8).

Figure 8. Raw data collection from interior scan set-up location. Note that vegetation (palm trees) at cave entrance have been ‘digitally removed’ from the scan to allow view into the cave.