3-D Representation of a Hohokam Pithouse

The following rendered images were created with AutoCAD version 12 and 3D Studio using coordinate data acquired from total station surveying of a replica of a Hohokam village.

The scenes depict a brief overview of the construction of a pithouse, the main dwelling of the Hohokam, known as the "Ancient Ones" to the modern day O'Odham Indian Culture of Southern Arizona.

This pithouse, which was typical of a period from A.D. 1100 to A.D. 1250, was constructed with a shallow rectangular, but round-cornered pit which was covered with a superstructure of poles, brush and clay.



Floor View

Pithouse Posts

View from NW

Night Skies


North View

Inside View

West View

SW View

Inside Night

The concept of creating a 3-dimensional model from archaeological data challenged me to employ the use of such data, integrated with various mapping software applications and the rendering capabilities of additional graphic packages, to achieve an end result that could be easily viewed and understood by archaeologists and laymen alike. The material I have selected for this project is based on a replica of a Hohokam pithouse typical of the American Southwest in Arizona circa AD 1100 to AD 1250.

I began with data which I collected from a series of field exercises done with survey instruments while participating in highly technical archaeology mapping courses. These surveys were completed in a series of progressive steps, first using a transit and stadia rod, then a theodolite, and finally a TopCon GTS-303 total station and a laptop computer. The final data obtained from this combination of surveys resulted in a set of raw coordinates which could be converted into northings, eastings, and elevations, thus creating a means for producing a 3D model of the pithouse itself and the contour of the land surrounding it.

The next step in this 3D imaging endeavor involved taking the raw data acquired through the field surveys and converting them into DXF files. This was done through the use of a small mapping program called AMP (Archaeological Mapping Program) which converted the raw data to coordinates, along with a conversion program called AMPTO that translated the data into DXF format. I then imported the DXF files into AutoCAD 12 to first produce a 2D map of the area complete with features, a legend, scale bar and north arrow. Contour lines were generated with the aid of other software mapping programs, including PacSoft, Surfer, and LandCADD.

At this point in the development of the 3D model of the pithouse, it became necessary to employ the use of the Advanced Modeling Extensions which is available in AutoCAD 12. By creating solid primitives, 3D faces and 3D meshes, the actual form of the pithouse began to emerge. The final rendered images were then obtained in 3D Studio through manipulation of lighting, views and scenes until the best possible images could be produced. Short animations were also created with the use of 3D Studio, including a fly-by and a walk-through of the pithouse model.

The enhanced visual perception of the construction of the Hohokam pithouse has been the end result of an endeavor that has translated raw data from the field into a final set of images. The techniques that have been developed in this project are an indication of the possibilities that now exist for an archaeological cartographer to more aptly convey a site's original condition through the use of the 3D image.

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