The Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA) was founded in 2012 to promote the fusion of new digital imaging technologies and traditional architectural techniques through a joint venture between Harvard University, The University of Oxford and Dubai’s Museum of the Future.
The IDA has recently moved into 3D technology after launching its signature initiative in 2015: The Million Image Database. The database represents an international collaboration to document at-risk buildings and monument sites throughout Middle East and North Africa (for now).
Specifically, in conjunction with UNESCO, engineering specialists at Oxford University and Harvard University, the IDA captures millions of 3D images of threatened objects throughout the world through volunteers armed with 3D cameras, specifically within conflict zones, captured by ordinary people living in these zones who are passionate about preserving structures and architecture.
Ploynomal Texture Mapping (PTM) is a powerful computational photographic technology that literally sheds new light on ancient or significant objects. Its safe ability to analyse the smallest feature of surface topology without damaging the ancient buildings has led to data breakthroughs which have been so significant that museums are seeking to make PTM the standard international protocol for artefact documentation.
Some media reported that the 2,000 year old Temple of Baal would be rebuilt as a house of worship in Times Square, New York, using 3D printing technology.
This year, a replica of the Triumphal Arch of Palmyra, the entrance to the temple, was unveiled in City Hall Park using 3D technology, created with Egyptian marble.
The actual Arch of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Syria, was destroyed last year in a terrorist attack by the Islamic State. It was originally the entryway to the Temple of Baal, but was later converted to a Christian church and, eventually, an Islamic mosque. In August 2015, ISIS militants destroyed the temple with explosives and beheaded the archeologist who had served as its caretaker for 40 years, claiming that pre-Islamic religious objects or structures are “sacrilegious.”
Of course, the IDA champions using 3D printing for providing not just tabletop-sized objects for study and appreciation, but also holds the promise of allowing organisations like IDA to consider full-scale replacement of damaged or destroyed significant urban buildings and monuments.
3D Printing of Oslo
The Agency for Planning and Building Services is part of the City Administration of Oslo and has about 380 employees. The agency plans the urban design and land use development of the city, by setting out objectives for the use of particular areas, designing overall development plans and granting building permissions. It is responsible for land use and transport planning through the Comprehensive Development Plan and local plans as well as for environmental impact analyses.
The Agency grants building permissions, carries out lift inspections, is responsible for property sectioning and for the maintenance of geographical maps, land use maps, register of land ownership, addresses and building identifications (KomGAB register). The Agency also deals with juridical appeals in regards to the Public Administration Act and the Planning and Building Act.
The 3D printed model of Oslo, which covers an area of 34.8 km2 within the city’s central area, is divided into 360 blocks of around A3 DIN size (standard sizing for drawings, diagrams, and large tables). Overall, the 3D printed model measures 7.6m x 4.5m. The scale is 1:1,000.
The 3D model was printed using two 3D Systems ZPrinter 650 3D printers. It was assembled on a wooden platform. Every block is detachable; that is, you can pull it out of the larger model for closer examination. This segmented approach makes it much easier and clearly less expensive to update the model when necessary. Each of the blocks or segments is comprised of different layers of data compiled in ZEdit Pro by Portland, Oregon-based Peak Solutions.
The increasing ease, speed and low cost with which high quality scans of objects and architecture can raise the possiblity of bringing technology to sites not previously accessible to scanning technology to facilitate recreation of objects that may otherwise be lost forever.
The same goes for significant urban architecture or rare samples of an era or architect who has passed, and with the use of PTM, allows for the recreation of the smallest microscopic details of an object unique to its architect or planner.
The IDA has settled on a mix of marble and sandstone technologies that appear to be suited for producing accurate large-scale replicas of even the largest monuments.
Sources: MillionImage.org.uk, digitalarchaeology.org.uk