Small Artifacts

Type of Artifact


  • Artifact from archaeological digs
  • Glass bead
  • Coin
  • Other
Colour photo of circular red and white artefact (possibly a bead), hole through centre, 1cm scale and KhVk-1:11


  1. Black or neutral grey background
  2. Artifact catalogue number
  3. Colour or white-grey-black scale
  4. Artifact placed straight
  5. Ensure that the catalogue number and scale can be excluded if necessary.


  • For tiny objects, a macro lens is required, in order to enlarge the object as much as possible and capture details.
  • The artifact must fill the frame as much as possible.
  • Use a digital camera capable of capturing a minimum of 3,000 pixels for the longest measurement (8 x 10, 300 ppi), in either RAW or TIFF.


To eliminate shadows: Raise the artifact by placing it on a showcase raised approximately 20 cm above the grey background. This will eliminate shadows.

Place a lamp/flash on each side of the showcase, each facing the artifact at a 45° angle to the bottom.


In the Studio

  • At the beginning of each session with new lighting, adjust the camera's white balance and for reference purposes, photograph a Kodak Q-14 colour scale.
  • Import the image into image-processing software (e.g., Photoshop) and adjust the "levels" on the colour scale with the points of reference as indicated in the general guidelines.
  • Save the data in ALV format, since this information will apply to all photos taken during the same photography session.
Colour photo of a sharpened stone tool (possibly a spear head), 2 cm scale at base and BiCu-1:3366
Colour photo of reverse side of a sharpened stone tool (possibly a spear head), 2 cm scale at base and BiCu-1:3366

Taking the Picture

  • Photograph the artifact with a small white-grey-black scale measuring 1 cm, 2 cm or 3 cm. Save space on the bottom right to record the object's catalogue number.
  • Photograph the object twice with the scale: one front view and one back view.

At the Computer - Image-Processing Software

  • Apply the ALV information to all images within the same studio session.
  • Works well for batch digitization and improves productivity, but does not offer optimal rendering of individual images.
  • Type the artifact's catalogue number in the lower right - in white if the background is black, and in black if the background is neutral grey (font: Arial, 40 pts.).
  • Flatten the image (i.e., flatten layers).
  • Convert in Adobe RGB 1998 profile, 8 bits per channel (total 24 bits).
  • Save the image as an uncompressed TIFF, named to standards established by the Corporation's Photo Archives.
  • Produce a JPEG version as described in the general guidelines.

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