Tourists’ Photos Help Digitally Reconstruct Artifacts Lost To War

Iraq; Nimrud - Assyria, Lamassu's Guarding Palace Entrance.jpg

Iconic Lamassu guarding the entrance to the palace at Nimrud, Assyria. This sculptor was purportedly destroyed by IS in 2007. (Image Credit: M. Chohan/Wikicommons)

By Kristen E. Strubberg Editor-in-Chief

An EU-Funded “cyber-archaeology” project, the Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage (ITN-DCH), has turned their focus to the Middle East.  Two doctoral student brainstormed this new arm of the project after seeing footage of ancient artifacts being destroyed in the Mosul Museum, Iraq.

Ph.D students Chance Coughenour and Matthew Vincent determined that using photogrammetry software they could digitally restore (and preserve) the artifacts.  All they needed was enough standard two-dimensional digital photos from which the software could build the three-dimensional model.  So, the two looked to the public.  They started Project Mosul where anyone can submit their photographs of lost artifacts while they also recruit volunteers to help sort and reproduce the digital art-work.  The project website indicate locations from which they are seeking photos and what work is waiting to be done.  Thus far, they have 20 recreations posted on the project’s site.  Though artifacts have more than one recreation, each 3d video shows another angle from which one could view the artifact, revealing different details.

reconstructed priest statue

A still frame example of a Project Mosul 3D reconstruction of statue of a priest from the ancient city of Hatra. (Image Credit; Project Mosul/Lucia Montalban/BBC)

The project has now added a location for artifacts lost in the recent Nepal earthquakes.

Follow this link to see the entire 3D gallery of Project Mosul. Read more about the project creation and cyber-archaeology at the BBC.

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