3D Documentation and Digital Illustration

The goal of the 3d scanning project initiated by the CMHI in 2007 is to produce high-resolution digital replicas of ancient Maya monuments and artifacts for the purposes of conservation, research, and education. Currently led by Alexandre Tokovinine, the project has been particularly concerned with documenting the endangered monuments at the archaeological site of Copan in Honduras, including the famous Hieroglyphic Stairway, the longest, surviving, pre-Conquest inscription in the New World. The stairway project is now at a phase when digital models and scaled 3d prints are assisting in a new and more accurate reconstruction of this monument. The 3d scanning project also contributed to in the documentation of monuments at the archaeological sites of Tikal and Holmul in Guatemala as well as in several museum collections of Guatemala and United States. Recent collaborations with the Harvard Center Shanghai and the China Fund, and the Harvard Semitic Museum and the Louvre Museum have expanded the project’s geographic and cultural scope. In addition to 3d scanning, digital photography and drawing techniques were used to document new monuments at the archaeological sites of Holmul, Cival, and Naranjo in Guatemala. The illustration component of the project currently centers on the production and publication of line drawings of stelae from the site of Yaxchilan in Mexico.

More information and samples




Alexandre Tokovinine and Adelso Canan scanning Building A, Group II, Holmul (photo by Keith Merwin).

Masiso stucco panel, Copan, Honduras, discovered by Ricardo Agurcia Fasquelle (3D rendering by Alexandre Tokovinine, with permission of the excavator and in collaboration with the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia).