19 - A 3D Morphometric Workflow for Quantifying Use-Wear on Pompeii’s Public Fountain Basins


Matthew F. Notarian, Hiram College


Many of Pompeii’s 36 extant public basin fountains display use wear of varying depth and location. Though long recognized as potential proxies for the intensity, duration, and habits associated with ancient water collection, quantifying this wear systemically is problematic. Located along the edges of the basins’ rectangular slabs, a two-dimensional morphometric approach cannot adequately capture the depth of worn zones, as they often extend along at least two faces. Moreover, the slabs’ original unworn forms are difficult to discern due to their irregular shape and varying materials.

This poster outlines a 3D morphometric analysis workflow to identify and quantify zones of wear on Pompeii’s fountain basins. A high precision photogrammetric survey in July 2023 captured 3D models of 34 public fountains. Using the open-source programs CloudCompare and Blender, individual basin slabs are graphically isolated to create convex hulls of their shape. The difference between the convex hull and the basin serves as a standard against which to measure the depth of wear. Morphometric parameters such as roughness highlight smooth surfaces of the stone, which help distinguish wear from other external irregularities. 3D volumetric models of worn zones are then created and quantified.

Preliminary results demonstrate this process successfully identifies, visualizes, and measures use wear, even areas that are not apparent in unaided visual inspection. These metrics form the basis of statistical analyses that address several aspects of water collection practices. These include the location of wear with respect to streets, sidewalks, and waterspouts, differences between basins of different stone types and materials, potential time depth and/or intensity of fountain use, and preference for collection from the left or right side. They also constitute a companion to a recent spatial model that estimated the intensity of fountain use based on their distribution.