During the summer of 2015, I worked alongside Art History Professor Ellen Hoobler on a project that involved looking at artifacts from ancient Mexican tombs in new ways by incorporating 3D digital modeling and 3D printing. We were able to measure, photograph, and video record a tomb and the remains of the structure on top of the tomb at the archaeological site of Monte Albán, Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. We also visited a community museum near the site and shared some of our printed objects. By 3D printing objects from the tombs, particularly Tomb 104, the physical juxtaposition of ritual objects has allowed us to begin to reconstruct ancient Zapotec rituals. I will suggest that the act of being able to physically experience the scale, size, and shape of objects through the 3D-printing medium contributes substantially to our understanding of the rituals and the spaces in which they were carried out, without any wear and tear on actual objects. We accomplished this using Maxon Cinema 4D software and 3D printing using the Makerbot Replicator and the CubePro, two 3D printers Cornell College’s library owns. Many other ritual spaces, whether offering caches or tombs, might benefit from the same kind of replication and investigation. Using Dr. Hoobler’s previous archival research data, we reconstructed artifacts that had been excavated in the 1930s, helping to add a significant new dimension to existing knowledge about this ancient site.
Arturo Hernandez, ’16
Sponsor: Ellen Hoobler