3D Scans Reveal Largest Cave Art in North America

May 30, 2022

Researchers have found mud drawings in a limestone cave in Alabama mad by torchlight bearing artists 1000 years ago. This is not of the largest rock art creations in North America. 3D photogrammetry was used to reveal the art. 5,000 square feet of art has been revealed by researchers lying down inside the cave chamber to 3-D the art. The artists would have done the same. There are thousands of engravings. Now that this discovery has been made, there will probably be others found.

3D photogrammetry IS an emerging technology that creates three-dimensional models based on overlapping photographs. The researchers used a digital camera, LED lights, and a photo rig alternatively set up on the dry cave floor or in patches of knee-deep water. They found 16.000 images.
Then it required uploading and processing each 50-megapixel photo into a larger 3D model. (The sheer amount of data “melted our first computer,” Alvarez says.)

Many of the figures are life sized. A rattlesnake drawing was 11 feet long, the largest piece of cave art ever found.

The drawing naked to the human eye date to 100 CE-1100 CE. This find shows that rock art in the Southwest was as large as rock art in the Southwest.

Researchers will be racing to find more such cave art work using this new technique. Just touching the art work can erase it.

National Geographic has the story here with many breathtaking photos;