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The Early Projects

The Sun Temple at Meroe, Sudan

page updated December 28, 2007
Bill Riseman constructed an experimental computer model using archaeological evidence from the Sun Temple (ca. 250 BCE) at Meroe from material supplied to him in 1991 by Dr. Friedrich W. Hinkel, retired, East German Academy of Sciences, Berlin.  With this model, Riseman studied the advantages and disadvantages of using different rendering engines to reproduce more complex shapes and scenes and to produce finished effects.  Meroe is located after the fifth cataract of the Nile River, southeast of Gebel Barkal (click here for map).
Sun Temple complex, Meroe (image size 18k) The computer model of the Sun Temple included all information about the building's foundation walls, entrance ramp, hypostyle halls, and internal sequence of temple spaces.  The model also included other interior rooms and exterior accessory structures.
Sun Temple, Meroe (textured; image size 23k) The basic vector data used to construct the models can be easily imported into any rendering engine in general use.  For example, when Riseman worked on these data, there were simple shading programs, such as Velocity by CadKey, and more complex procedural shaders, such as Renderman by Pixar (similar then to the programs used by George Lucas of Industrial Light and Magic), which use complex mathematical algorithms to calculate, store, and display subtle variations in form, texture, and shading.  Riseman also experimented with 3D Studio by Autodesk and Crystal 3D by Time Arts, Inc.

The major disadvantage of simple shading or texture-mapping programs is the repetitive nature of the applied textures, although they can be modified.  The programs tend to be quick, easy to apply, and flexible.  Procedural shaders, on the other hand, can generate more sophisticated textures all produced from a few lines of programming code; therefore, they can reproduce nearly infinite gradations and subtleties in textures that can be applied to any type of surface.  Their major disadvantage is their slow speed to render out.

In 2005, LEARNING SITES was engaged by the National Geographic to resurrect the Meroe model so that we could generate flythroughs for a middle school DVD.

The Early Projects
Company History Introduction
The Temples at Gebel Barkal -- "inverse photogrammetry"
Aspelata's Tomb -- 3-D hieroglyphics
Mastabas at Giza -- "epigrammetry"
The Gebel Barkal virtual worlds
Fortress of Buhen virtual world
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