The 3D Scanning, Archiving, and Training Centre at Stoppelaëre House

Hassan Fathy's Stoppelaëre House, Luxor

The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative was set up to ensure that the local community benefits in a tangible way from the international efforts to preserve cultural heritage in the Valley of the Kings, and also that Egypt’s rich cultural heritage benefits from the knowledge and skills of local people. TNPI has therefore established the 3D Scanning, Training, and Archiving Centre to offer courses in recording and digital processing methods and provide new skills and employment in the Valley of the Kings.

Aliaa Ismail (left) instructing trainees in the use of the Lucida 3D Scanner © Factum Foundation

The Centre is run by Aliaa Ismail, an Egyptologist educated at the American University in Cairo, and between 2019 and 2022 ten trainees, chosen from a shortlist of candidates proposed by the Ministry of Antiquities, will pass through the training program. The trainees enter the program in cohorts of two, with each pair of newly trained operators subsequently helping to train the cohort which follows them. Over the course of the six-month program, trainees learn skills including laser scanning, photogrammetry, color recording, data processing, archiving and data dissemination.

Between 2019 and 2023, the Centre will focus its scanning efforts on completing the recording of the tomb building and recording the many fragments (more than 8,000) from the Tomb of Seti which are held in the Valley of the Kings, many of which were uncovered in recent excavations in the nearby tomb of Ramesses X (KV18). The data from this project will be stored in a digital archive in Stoppelaëre House, where it will be freely available for study and condition monitoring. The copyright for all current and future commercial applications will belong to the Ministry of Antiquities, and initial documentation and study of the fragments will be carried out by the University of Basel project in the Valley of the Kings, led by Dr. Florence Mauric-Barberio and Prof. Susanne Bickel. It is hoped that, via the ARCHiVe initiative, computer vision technology and AI can also be used to analyse the data.

Scanning in the tomb © Factum Foundation

Factum Foundation specialists will provide additional training at the Centre, as well as offsite support, but the aim is for the team to be able to operate with as little external input as possible. As more trainees graduate, more of the data processing will take place in Luxor rather than in Madrid, and the ultimate goal is a self-sustaining centre which offers long-term digital recording and archiving facilities while bringing new skills to the West Bank.

Once the fragments from the Tomb of Seti have been recorded, it is anticipated that the team will be able to take on new digitisation projects in the Valley of the Kings and beyond, working both for the Ministry of Antiquities and for the many foreign excavation teams working in Egypt.

© Factum Foundation

Training Course

The training course, which takes place over a six-month period, includes the following skills:

  • Setting up the Lucida 3D Scanner
  • Operating the Lucida 3D Scanner
  • Processing the data as a tonal render
  • Stitching the data into tiles
  • Converting the tonal render into a 3D file (an image into a form)
  • Learning the principles of composite photography
  • Using composite photography to record colour
  • Using composite photography to record 3D (photogrammetry)
  • All stages of processing the colour and 3D photographic data
  • Merging Laser scanned and photogrammetric data
  • Using LiDAR Scanners
  • Understanding the different recording systems and when to use them
  • Training individuals to work in vulnerable heritage sites
  • Offering advice to other missions in the area

The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative team at Stoppelaëre House in 2019 © Factum Foundation