Symon Radchenko

Simon Radchenko is a Ukrainian scholar currently working at the Museum of Archaeology of the University of Stavanger, Norway. He is focused on the prehistoric art and archaeology of Ukraine. His background is in geoinformatics and photogrammetry, and his experience in archaeological fieldwork allows him to fuse the borders between these scientific fields. Besides his primary expertise, Simon studies metamodern literature and contemporary cultural processes.

Doctoral Thesis Research Topic
Photogrammetric Study of Ukrainian Rock Art Objects

The research aimed to develop a technological solution for the accurate submillimeter image-based 3D modeling of portable rock art specimens. Its primary hypothesis is that shape and technical details of engraving on the rock art surface — two crucial features of portable rock art — should be reproduced by a 3D model with the highest possible accuracy. The former is an essential bearer of contextual and possibly semantic information. At the same time, the latter is needed for the technological interpretation of portable rock art specimens’ life cycle and the engraving process. Thus the adopted photogrammetric workflow considered both of these parameters.

The two study cases — the portable rock art collection from the Kamyana Mohyla complex in the Steppe Ukraine and the collection from Gobustan National Reserve (Azerbaijan) — focused on revealing new data on prehistoric art and artists based on the photogrammetric 3D modeling.
These collections are unique and non-studied examples of large prehistoric entities of portable steppe rock art. Both of them were never digitized or accurately studied before. Therefore, the project introduced the first digital assessment of the available datasets with high accuracy to check the existent hypotheses and upgrade them when needed.
In terms of methodology, the project aimed to create a solution for the submillimeter image-based 3D modeling of portable objects. This aim fostered the development of a specific workflow that achieves as detailed surface reconstruction as possible. Moreover, the accuracy requirements forced the development of a specific metric and referencing solution that would allow submillimeter measurements and observations of the model. This is the physical outcome of the project — referencing metallic plates for image-based 3D modeling.
After the modeling, surfaces of portable rock art specimens were analyzed in several digital environments, including artificial light simulation systems, to define technological features of engravings on the object’s surface, their relative chronology, and manufacturing details. High amount of processed specimens allowed the technological and archaeological generalization regarding the objects’ production and life cycle.

While the methodological and technological outcomes of the project are presented with the development of the technical solution for the scaling and referencing of the image-based 3D models with submillimeter accuracy, there are other outcomes to show. To begin with, the project introduces the first-ever digital study of Ukrainian rock art. Moreover, its by-product is the only collection of 3D models from the unique occupied and jeopardized rock art site. An accurate drawing of the objects and a study of engraving patterns dismantled the hypothesis on the Upper Paleolithic origin of one part of the collection, simultaneously supporting the Mesolithic attribution of another. This significantly shifts our understanding of the largest Ukrainian rock art complex. Furthermore, the introduced way of studying portable rock art specimens brings new aspects to reconstructing their manufacturing and life-cycle features. Last but not least, several technical aspects of the Azerbaijan portable rock art objects manufacturing have been discovered and described.

Tech4Culture Fellow – Call 2 (2019)


Vito Messina, Department of Historical Studies, UniTO

Fulvio Rinaudo, Architecture & Design Dept. (Politecnico di Torino)