Reuse scenario

Τhe UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne

Within the 5D Culture project, one of the archaeological case studies focuses upon the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne, a significant archaeological and historical site in Ireland. It is renowned for its Neolithic burial mounds, including Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, which date back over 5,000 years. These sites are some of the world's oldest and most well-preserved megalithic structures and highlight the advanced engineering and architectural skills of Neolithic populations. Newgrange, in particular is famous for its winter solstice phenomenon when on the shortest day of the year, sunlight enters the passage tomb and illuminates its inner chamber.
The site receives around 250,000 visitors each year. Several of the passages within this site are off limits for the public due to conservation and health and safety issues, so the provision of virtual access through the use of 3D models is extremely valuable to understand and appreciate these globally significant sites.
Megalithic art at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth consists of intricate carvings, primarily on the kerbstones that encircle the mounds and within the passageways. These carvings feature geometric shapes, spirals, concentric circles, and other symbols. The meaning of these symbols is still debated, but they likely held deep cultural and possibly religious significance potentially being used for storytelling or community rituals. The art showcases the advanced craftsmanship of Neolithic peoples with the precision and detail in the carvings are impressive and demonstrate a high level of skill in working with Neolithic tools (Figure 1).

Figure 1. 3D model of the Entrance Stone at Newgrange, approximately 3m in length. Originally recorded in 2012 as part of the 3D-ICONS Project with the Artec Eva handheld scanner.

Improving quality

Over the past decade as part of previous EU funded projects (3D-ICONS) or through direct support for the National Monuments Service in Ireland, the Discovery Programme has employed a range of techniques and methods to digitally document in 3D many of these important monuments and artworks at Brú na Bóinne (Figure 2). Since their original capture, both recording, modelling and presentation technology has improved significantly. Within the 5D Culture project several areas of quality improvement is being implemented including:
  • Reprocessing of legacy data to achieve increased model resolution and accuracy
  • Production of higher resolution textures (8k & 16K) based on photogrammetric and procedurally generated processes have for different sectors (tourism, education, gaming, the arts, conservation and heritage management)
  • Improvement in photo texturing through delighting and cross polarisation techniques
  • Improving the metadata and paradata associated with each model
Where applicable, additional digital documentation will be achieved through the 3D capture of artefacts associated with the monuments and of comparable passage grave sites at Loughcrew and Fourknocks.

Figure 2. Surveyors for the Discovery Programme digitally recording one of the interior chambers at Knowth using a Faro terrestrial laser scanner.

Exploring Reuse

With the availability of 3D content of considerable cultural significance, three use cases are being explored to enable the most efficient and effective use of this resource. These include:
  • Tourism: 3D models play a pivotal role in cultural tourism by enabling visitors to engage with immersive and interactive experiences that bring historical and cultural sites to life. These models enhance the educational and emotional impact of tourism, offering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich heritage and significance of the destinations visited.
  • Creative Arts: 3D cultural heritage models are invaluable assets in the creative arts sector as they provide artists, filmmakers, and designers with highly detailed references for accurately recreating historical settings and artifacts in their projects. These models empower creators to instil their works with authenticity, fostering a deeper connection between audiences and the cultural heritage being depicted.
  • Conservation: 3D cultural heritage models serve as critical tools in the conservation sector, aiding experts in the meticulous preservation of fragile archaeological artifacts and monuments. These models enable precise documentation and analysis, helping conservation exerts make informed decisions and develop effective strategies to safeguard our cultural heritage for future generations.

From the blog

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