Explore Meticulous 3D Models of Endangered Historical Sites in Google’s “Open Heritage” Project

One brisk thump­ing by a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter, total­i­tar­i­an regime, or ter­ror­ist group is more than enough to reduce an awe-inspir­ing her­itage site to rub­ble.

With that sad fact in mind, Google Arts & Cul­ture has paired with CyArk, a non prof­it whose mis­sion is using the lat­est tech­nolo­gies to dig­i­tal­ly doc­u­ment and pre­serve the world’s sig­nif­i­cant cul­tur­al her­itage in an eas­i­ly share­able for­mat.

The result­ing project, Open Her­itage, is a mas­sive brows­able col­lec­tion of 3D her­itage data, already the largest of its kind, and cer­tain to increase as its cre­ators race against the clock.

As of this writ­ing, vis­i­tors can explore 3D mod­els of 27 her­itage sites from 18 coun­tries.

Even those of us who’ve had the good for­tune to vis­it these sites in per­son have much to gain from the drone’s eye view of the Cara­col obser­va­to­ry that’s part of Mexico’s ancient Mayan metrop­o­lis Chichén Itzá or Berlin’s icon­ic Bran­den­burg Gate.

Each mod­el is accom­pa­nied by an expe­di­tion overview that details the site’s his­to­ry and sig­nif­i­cance, as well as its loca­tion on a map. Time lapse pho­tos help give a sense of the site’s human traf­fic dur­ing the time it was being doc­u­ment­ed, as well as the nature of the work CyArk does on loca­tion. Sig­nif­i­cant details are high­light­ed, and their sym­bol­ism dis­cussed.

CyArk will share project data with view­ers who request it, using a Cre­ative Com­mons Attri­bu­tion-Non­Com­mer­cial 4.0 Inter­na­tion­al License.

Equal­ly impor­tant is the role these com­pre­hen­sive 3D scans can play in cur­rent and future restora­tion efforts, by iden­ti­fy­ing areas of dam­age and doc­u­ment­ing exist­ing col­or and tex­ture with down-to-the-mil­lime­ter pre­ci­sion.

Begin your vir­tu­al explo­rations of such Open Her­itage sites as Greece’s Ancient Corinth, Lebanon’s Tem­ple of Echoun, and Ayut­thaya, Thailand’s Wat Si San­phet, here.

Learn more about aer­i­al pho­togram­me­try, 3D laser scan­ning, stereo­scop­ic 360 imagery, and oth­er tools of the dig­i­tal preser­va­tion trade here.

And stay abreast of CyArk’s work by sub­scrib­ing to their free month­ly newslet­ter here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Vis­it 890 UNESCO World Her­itage Sites with Free iPhone/iPad App

Google Puts Over 57,000 Works of Art on the Web

Google Dig­i­tizes and Puts Online a Vast Archive of Lati­no Art­works and Arti­facts

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her solo show Nurse!, in which one of Shakespeare’s best loved female char­ac­ters hits the lec­ture cir­cuit to set the record straight pre­mieres in June at The Tank in New York City. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.