3D Laser Scanning Services: Producing a 3D Printing of a 19th-Century Artifact

The Tlingit Frog Clan Helmet

With the approval of the cultural resource specialist of the Central Council of Tlingit, the Hudson Museum and the University of Maine have teamed up, and successfully used 3D laser scanning services to 3D print a 19th-century artifact–the Tlingit Frog Clan Helmet. 

This new artistic endeavor using 3D scanning services aims to allow the ancestral artifact to be returned to its people while also providing a replica for future generations to study and learn from. 

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act has allowed tribes across the United States to reclaim cultural items found from excavation. 

For example, the Tlingit Frog Clan Helmet was gifted to the University of Maine by William P. Palmer III along with other important historical items in 1982. Recently, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska have requested for this valuable artifact to be returned to the home of its people and culture. 

The Tlingit Frog Clan Helmet played a crucial role in the ancestral history of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. This clan helmet, also known as at.oow, was typically kept and worn by the clan’s leader. They were used during the ceremonial practices of the tribes and typically were decorated with crest animals or clan symbols. 

The University’s Expertise in 3D Laser Scanning Services

The University of Maine’s Composites Center is known for its proficiency in the 3D printing world. This project is led by the Composites Center research engineers Johnathan Roy and Alexander Cole. They led the entire process, including scanning, digitizing, and 3D printing of the artifact. 

The Composites Center will challenge the Intermedia Program of the University of Maine on their skills in designing and replicating the clan helmet. The prototype will include painting and resurfacing the prototype to create an exact replica of the 19th-century clan helmet. 

The work being done in addition to the 3D laser scan will be completed through the partnership of Intermedia graduate students Luke McKinney, Reed Hayden, and Anna Martin. The entire process will be included in an exhibit at the Hudson Museum at the end of July. 

With this first prototype of the Tlingit Frog Clan Helmet, they are setting the protocols for scanning, printing, and designing priceless artifacts from other indigenous tribes. This project will also guide communications between museums and indigenous tribes during artifacts’ replication and return process. The University of Maine and the Hudson Museum have paved the way for future artifacts to be replicated and returned to their rightful homes.

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