Along with the recent launch of the blockbuster Tomb of Christ exhibit at the National Geographic Museum, we have been digitizing mummified dinosaurs, 3D scanning the great Maya city of Chichen Itza, and much more as we capture the world's wonders.
Petra, The City of Mysteries
Chichén Itzá was one of the greatest Maya cities and is one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World. The site is huge, spanning over 10 square kilometers and there is still much to be discovered at the site. It has captured the imagination of generations much like many of the temples and tombs in Egypt.
In collaboration with archaeologist Guillermo de Anda and Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, we have begun the work of 3D scanning the entire site. Not just what can be seen from the exterior but also inside of the structures, in the caves beneath the grounds, and the flooded caves and cenotes (sinkholes) scattered around the site.
This work uses traditional terrestrial laser scanners and photogrammetry but also custom designed equipment such as a LIDAR drone that scans from the sky and can even generate 3D scans through dense foliage, and an inflatable kayak with imaging sonar to scan beneath the surface of the flooded cenotes. The resulting composite scan will let us see the entire site like never before, create a “digital copy” for preservation, and help answer some of the archaeological mysteries that remain.
Working with Mexican archaeologist Guillermo de Anda and his Grand Maya Aquifer project, we have been scanning dozens of archaeology finds in the flooded caves and cenotes (sinkholes) in the Yucatan region of Mexico. These finds include Maya human sacrifice victims, pottery, and even ice age animals.
The ice age bear shown here was scanned entirely underwater so that it could be preserved in the low oxygen dark environment it was found in instead of being brought to the surface where it would immediately start to deteriorate. The resulting scan, which is accurate to better than 1 millimeter, is being used for further study of this find while the original still sits in its resting place about 100′ deep underwater in a flooded cave
Church Of The Holy Sepulchre
In one of our largest projects to date, we 3D scanned the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which many believe contains the tomb of Christ. By combining dozens of laser scans with tens of thousands of photographs we were able to build an incredibly realistic digital copy of the space. Our scan forms the basis of the blockbuster National Geographic Museum exhibit: Tomb of Christ – The Church of the Holy Sepulchre Experience. This one-of-a-kind museum exhibit allows visitors to be virtually transported to Jerusalem and discover the fascinating history of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in an immersive 3-D experience unlike anything you’ve seen in a museum before.
Along with the core 3D projector based immersive experience and other interactive media, additional digital merchandising include:
- a VR headset based experience (shown at the museum exhibit on 6 VR stations)
Some 110 million years ago an armored dinosaur known as a Nodosaur fell into a river and was carried out to sea. When it impacted the sea floor the force must have embedded it into the seafloor silt. A few years ago, an equipment operator at a mine site near Fort McMurray in Canada accidentally discovered this dinosaur when his excavator unearthed it during a digging operation. Between the discovery and extraction, the find was broken into 7 large pieces. These pieces were carefully cleaned and the surrounding rock removed by the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. To everyone’s amazement, the fact that the dinosaur was protected from decay by the seafloor silt meant that this dinosaur was almost more mummified than fossilized! It has intact skin, tendons, and even internal organs!
We set out to 3D scan this find in order to digitally reassemble the dinosaur, provide models for printing in classrooms, and (a first in 3D scanning we believe) to build a model of the find in UV and IR to highlight any internal anatomy.
Check out the interactive tour that was published on the National Geographic website to go along with the magazine article!