The Early Projects
Gebel Barkal, Sudan
page updated Feb. 25, 1999
setting for what Bill Riseman
termed "inverse-photogrammetry" is the site of Gebel Barkal, the Sacred
Mountain of Kush, located about 400km north of Khartoum, the Sudan (ancient
Nubia), between the third and fourth cataracts, along the only section
of the Nile River that flows south (click
here for map). Gebel Barkal is the current name for the small mountain
and its archaeological site marking the ancient city of Napata, founded
during the territorial expansion undertaken during the 18th Dynasty. The
extensive ruins at Gebel Barkal (encompassing at least thirteen temples
and three palaces), first excavated in 1916, are still being quarried by
local inhabitants for building materials.
Conventionally, in photogrammetry, photographs of an existing building are taken; the images are then scanned into a computer. From the scanned images the computer can dimension the building to within an accuracy of a few millimeters. For inverse-photogrammetry, we start with photographs of a site where buildings once stood, then reconstruct the building or buildings within the computer.
process, as applied to the monuments of Gebel Barkal, proceeded as follows.
In 1989, Dr. Timothy Kendall, assistant curator at the Museum
of Fine Arts, Boston, provided Riseman with 3-D coordinate data that
was shot using a 3-D laser transit. With the use of additional plans
and field diaries, some dating back to 1910, Riseman created 2-D vector
plans which were subsequently extruded up into the third dimension.
From that information he constructed an accurate 3-D wireframe model of
the entire site.
Such visual transpositions and such archaeological insight could not be accomplished through any other medium with such accuracy, nor with the added benefit of being able quickly and efficiently to test various reconstructed environments for the best archaeological fit.
This was our first pass at reconstructions of the buildings at Gebel Barkal. In 1995, a second model was built (focusing on Temple B700), which was subsequently recoded for virtual reality. Work then moved to Temple B300, as LEARNING SITES moves to re-create the entire ancient religious center.