Directorate of Archaeology initiates digital conservation & 3D scanning

Peshawar: The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has initiated a digital conservation and 3D scanning at Julian Stupa and Monastery Khanpur and Takht-e-Bhai, archaeological heritage site in district Mardan.

Preliminarily, the department has selected two archaeological heritage sites, including Julian Stupa and Monastery Khanpur & Takht-e-Bahi Mardan, aimed at to design a virtual tour of the premises which will soon be available online, said Dr Abdul Samad, Director Archaeology and Museums Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

For this purpose, he informed that a team of conservation experts from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) along with Directorate of Archaeology & Museums Khyber Pakhtunkhwa officials is using 3D images of Stupa and Monastery at Julian, Haripur.

The Director said that with 1.3-6.3mm accuracy the laser scanner is useful for conservation work. He expressed the hope that the initiative would have a ripple effect that eventually, all monument sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, small or big, are conserved in the best way possible. “Preserving the past is the way to safeguarding our distinctiveness and traditional legacy as a nation”, he said.

Dr Samad said the virtual tour is not only meant for recreational purposes, but the model of the Stupa and Monastery premises in digital form will be useful for conservation efforts as well. The conservation team is using a laser scanning camera that can produce highly accurate photos by capturing multiple points at the same time, he added.

Fortunately, the Director said the technological breakthroughs have now allowed us to seek alternatives when it comes to saving our legacy. Nowadays, he said all around the globe, laser scanners are being used to create 3D models which will digitally restore monuments and artefacts to their current conditions, and make these models available to people all over the world.

While commenting about the initiative, Secretary Archaeology, Tourism, Sports, and youth affair, Azam Khan said it is step towards to use modern techniques and tools for conservation and preservation of archaeological monuments and relics in the province.

The Secretary reiterated the provincial government commitment towards preservation and conservation of archaeological and cultural heritage. He added that the department was taking all possible measures, to adopt modern techniques and methods, while preserving and conserving the archaeological monuments and other relics in the province. A comprehensive strategy was evolved to promote archaeological tourism, culture, sports and other recreational activities, the secretary said.

Dr. Murtaza Taj, a assistant professor of LUMS, said his team mates Atiq Hashmi and Wajiha Arshad along with KP Archaeological Department officials Numan Anwar, and Amir Umer are using latest laser technology to create a 3D model of Stupa and Monastery that will allow people to see a virtual tour of these ancient sites online.

He said architects and conservationists can use 3D images produced using the scanner to create elevations and cross-sections and study the site with greater accuracy. He says with 3D images of heritage sites in need of conservation, experts can go about their work without being present at the site. The same team has also started working on the conservation of Takht-e-Bahi in Mardan district.