Institut für Raumbezogene Informations- und Messtechnik
Hochschule Mainz - University of Applied Sciences

ARS3D African Red Slip Ware digital – 3D documentation for a multiperspective analysis of a central Late Antique object type

The so-called African Red Slip Ware (ARS) is a central archaeological object type for the understanding of late antique worlds of ideas and their change, as well as for the economic history. The 3-year project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research deals with the digitisation of relief-decorated ARS of the Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums (RGZM).

A central object type for the understanding of late antique worlds of ideas and their change, as well as for the economic history of this era, is a relief-decorated ceramic produced mainly between the 3rd to 5th century AD in North Africa. The so-called African Red Slip Ware (ARS) was traded throughout the Mediterranean and to the British Isles. Bowls, plates, and jugs are of great importance as mass-produced image carriers and everyday objects, since they found a distribution like hardly any other medium in this time. In spite of its special media qualities and the great potential of knowledge enhancement for humanities research questions, the object type is scarcely studied in this respect and is insufficiently available for such analyses. The main reason for this is the special challenge in the documentation of the objects and their decoration. Due to the different vessel curvatures, the image representations attached to the vessels using relief applications cannot be adequately covered by traditional 2D documentation methods. Moreover, a standardized approach to describe the content of the image representations is missing in the relevant literature.

The aim of the project is to provide to the research community innovative and sustainable access to a largely unpublished object type to enable not only the establishment of new research questions but also to set documentation standards.


This will be achieved through a precise 3D documentation of African Red Slip Ware with appliqué motifs of the RGZM and the development of an ontology. The necessary 3D analysis and visualization tools, the use of domain-specific and standardised concepts and the integration of external specialist databases require the creation of a customized, virtual platform. For the purpose of referencing and long-term archiving, the digital masters are made accessible via the object database Arachne. The project is intended as a pilot to incentivise the processing and valorisation of further collection of ARS with appliqué motifs.

Basic Information

Period:     01.02.2018 - 31.01.2021
  • – Dr. Alexandra Busch
  • – Dr. Allard Mees
  • – Florian Thiery, M.Sc.
  • – Dr. Louise Rokohl
  • – Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Archäologie
Förderkennzeichen:     BMBF-01UG1888AX
  • Example of a textured 3D data set with a 3D resolution of 0.1 mm

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