New technology may aid local treasure

Published Jun 10, 2018 at 9:00am

This past week, Dr. Michael ‘Bodhi’ Rogers from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ithaca College visited Fort Stanwix National Monument to 3D scan the hearth.

The hearth is a unique archaeological feature from the fort’s occupation. It was excavated during the reconstruction of the fort and has been on display for visitors since the park opened in 1976.

The hearth is the only original element of the fort left in place and is a visitor favorite, according to Fort Stanwix National Monument officials.

Rogers is a physicist and archaeologist who uses specialized technology to record historic buildings, search for archaeological features without excavation, and make 3 dimension-print scale buildings and objects. He has used this technology to scan Trim Castle in Ireland in addition to a variety of historic homes and forts for the National Park Service.

The hearth at Fort Stanwix will be the first archeological feature to undergo this 3D technology, according to an announcement by Fort Stanwix.

Rogers, project coordinator and Ithaca College alum Ryan Bouricius, and current student Lexi Farrington, utilized two hand-held 3D scanning devices to capture the hearth at a very high resolution. This will allow for a detailed rendering of the feature and provide information for the park to make decisions regarding the hearth’s preservation, officials added.

“This project is exciting because modern laser technology is the only way to fully record this important feature in high detail without damaging it,” Rogers said. “Advances in online three dimensional rendering will also help us make this feature available for many more people to view it remotely, which we hope will inspire people to come see it in person.”

Chief of Cultural Resources at Fort Stanwix National Monument Keith Routley also noted, “Forty-two years on exhibit has led to deterioration of the feature and these high resolution scans capture intricate details about the hearth’s current condition. This information can be used to help the NPS make decisions regarding long-term preservation.” 

The park plans to share the finalized scan on the NPS.gov and is considering other ways it may help visitors enjoy the site. Currently the hearth room, along with the rest of the north casemate, is undergoing rehabilitation and is closed to the public for the next several months. However, summer Behind the Scenes Collection Tours are still available. These tours are a unique chance to learn about the archaeology, museum collection, and preservation at Fort Stanwix.

Tours are offered through August 30 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visitors can sign up at the front desk of the Visitor Center to secure their spot.

Fort Stanwix National Monument is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the park is free. For more information about upcoming events, call the park at 315-338-7730.

Visit the park’s web page at www.nps.gov/fost, or follow Fort Stanwix on Facebook or Instagram, for additional information about the park and up-to-date news about park events. Fort Stanwix is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks, visit www.nps.gov.