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M.J. Merchán1, P. Merchán2

1Universidad Pablo de Olavide (SPAIN)
2Universidad de Extremadura (SPAIN)
Teaching a discipline like Archaeology, which is focused on the study of the material object per se, becomes relatively complicated in the e-learning processes. Traditionally, in the instruction of this subject at face-to-face universities, the lectures are complemented with the archaeological materials available in the marmotecas, litotecas and numismatical and ceramic collections. All the departments of this speciality care for having them due to the fact that handling the physical object is indispensable for its correct comprehension. In the case of e-learning, this type of knowledge is impossible and it has been conventionally carried out from photographies and archaeological drawings. They are undoubtedly used to be very useful up to the appearance of the new technologies, but nowadays it is revealed that this kind of teaching does not provide the students with the needed training as it does not allow them to be able to appreciate the objects in all their dimensions. So, the potential that a tool like the 3D models of archaeological pieces provides us seems to be indispensable since it offers the possibility of working with a "real object" in our computer. 3D models can be defined as a computer representation of the three-dimensional surface of an object. The procedure to obtain them begins with the acquisition of the actual surface information by using a 3D scanner. Then, a sequence of non trivial stages that comprises registering, merging and processing must be followed to finish with the digital replica of the real object provided.

The aim of this article is to highlight the importance that the access to a database elaborated from this technology supposes for students of this matter who can know the scales, textures, volumes, etc. of an archaeological piece as if they had it between their own hands. In this case, we have produced a digital database made up from the funds of the National Museum of Roman Art in Spain. This way, by using this type of resource, besides obtaining the theoretical - practical formation, the students will be able to handle a technology that qualifies them in skills supposed to a 21st century Archaeologist, moreover if we take into account that they will be communicating and collaborating online with other archaeologists and presenting their findings via online publications and multimedia presentations.