The Naamboi "jars,” were donated to the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology by Dr. Richard Shutler Jr. in 1985. He excavated in the South Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s, including the island of Malekula, in the Vanuatu archipelago, northeast of Australia. These jars came from an abandoned mountain village near the west coast of Malekula. 

Naamboi Jar 08169

Naamboi jars are believed to originally be part of important rituals surrounding fertility and control of the weather, and the form is characteristic of the final period of ceramic production on the island of Malekula, several hundred years ago (Bedford 2006: 151 ff.). These Naamboi jars are among the few known in museum collections and the larger of the jars (08170) is thought to be the largest ever found. 

Naamboi Jar 08170

Photogrammetry is a unique way to reconstruct an object through pictures taken from all angles. The images can be collected from digital, conventional, or laser scanner images. In the example of jar 08169 digital images were taken from all angles, fifty plus in total. The images were then edited and uploaded into Autodesk ReMakeTM which compiled the images and converted them into high definition 3D meshes.

What are the implications of this technique, especially in archaeology? The 3D meshes allow for accurate measurements and the ability to inspect small details of the artefact. This allows archaeologists in the field to create accurate representation without having to physically bring artefacts back to the lab, which in many cases is not permitted by local governments. Through this software archaeologists are able to manipulate or share the images, print 2D versions or print out 3D models of the artefacts.

Another benefit of this technology in archaeology is for the posterity of large archaeological features that have been destroyed through acts of terrorism or natural disaster. With the help of photogrammetry, archaeologists are able to recreate whole sites so the information can be preserved for further research and for future generations to enjoy and preserve. 

For more information on the Naamboi jars please visit:

For more information on photogrammetry please visit:


Bedford, S. 2006. Pieces of the Vanuatu Puzzle: Archaeology of the North, South and Centre. Canberra : Pandanus Books. 

Special thanks to Rob Rondeau and Dr. Barbara Winter.

Photography, 3D modeling and website by Katherine Luyten, B.A. - August 2017.