Recreating the Ancient Past at Harvard
Kyle.Maxey posted on December 11, 2012 |

Museum curators at Harvard’s Semitic Museum are using 3D modeling to undo a part of the destruction of the ancient Iraqi city of Nuzi that was sacked by the Assyrians nearly 3,300 years ago.

“In a high-tech project that would have been impossible even four years ago, technicians are attempting to re-create a 2-foot-long ceramic lion that likely flanked an image of the goddess Ishtar in a temple in long-ago Nuzi, which is the modern archaeological site of Yorghan Tepe.”

The most incredible aspect of this project is that the Semitic Museum owns just two parts of the ceramic lion: its front paws and a larger segment that makes up the lion’s rump and hind legs. It’s believes that the temple where the lion was found was home to four lion statues, two sitting and two crouching. Fortunately for Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania has a similar, intact statue which they have been able to borrow and use as a base model.

Learning Sites Inc., an archeological visualization firm, is leading the technical aspect of the project. Learning Site’s technicians are taking more than 100 overlapping photos of the intact lion. From these photos a 3D model can be knitted together. This model will act as base from which the paws and hind legs can be attached to a high density foam recreation of the lion, bringing the creature back to life some 3000 years after its destruction.  

The Semitic Museum’s assistant director Joseph Greene is excited about this project for a number of reasons. “It’s important to devote our time and attention to objects we have in our collection and to apply the latest techniques, techniques not dreamed of when [the artifacts] were dug up,” He continues “There’s a continual curiosity: What more can we learn? What hasn’t been tried so far? Can we wring new data from objects that have been in our basement for 80 years?”

Read More at Harvard Gazette

Images Courtesy of Harvard Gazette

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