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The very real threats of seismic activity – such as an earthquake like the 1980 event that caused wide-spread damage or a volcanic eruption, which might rebury 250 years of excavation in a day – make the most detailed documentation a primary responsibility.

Therefore, the Pompeii Quadriporticus Project is conducting an integrated campaign of three-dimensional digital documentation combined with a detailed analysis of the building's masonry fabrics. For the first process, digital documentation, we are employing both a 3D laser scanner and photogrammetric techniques to capture the spatial information of the Quadriporticus' dimensions and architectural details with exceptional precision and accuracy. The point clouds and 3D meshes generated by these recording methods are also serving as the platform for our GIS analyses, which integrate the results of our second methodology: masonry analysis.

Masonry analysis, in brief, considers the materials, style of construction, and any alterations to each wall's masonry to produce an individual record for every wall of a structure. This process simultaneously builds up a comparative database of fabrics for comparison both within this building and among other buildings. More importantly, determining the manner that each wall interacts with those walls and features with which it is in physical contact reveals the stratigraphic evidence to put these walls into a relative chronological sequence. The end product of this method is a clear plan of the different phases of construction – founded upon thousands of individual empirical observations – that succinctly maps out the building’s history.

A more detailed discussion of how to determine and use stratigraphic relationships in masonry analysis can be found in Ellis, S., T. Gregory, E. Poehler and K. Cole. 2008. “A New Method for Studying Architecture and Integrating Legacy Data: A case study from Isthmia, Greece.” In Allison, P. (ed.), Dealing with Legacy Data, Internet Archaeology. (login required)

These results will ultimately link to the excavated stratigraphic and architectural data captured from insulae VIII.7-1-15, I.1.1-10, and the Porta Stabia by the Pompeii Archaeological research Project: Porta Stabia. To directly relate masses of archaeological data across two independent but related field projects represents an important leap forward in Pompeian archaeology.


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