Recording the Tomb

The High resolution recording and production of an exact facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun is part of a major initiative by the Supreme Council of Antiquities to preserve the tombs in the Valley of the Kings while making important tombs that are either closed or in need of closure accessible to the public and to scholars.

The project was launched by Dr Zahi Hawass, in his role as Director General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, in collaboration with the University of Basel, The Friends of the Royal tombs of Egypt, the Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation and Factum Arte.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities has granted permission for the recording and facsimile production of the tombs of Seti i (closed to the public since the late 1980’s), Nefertari (closed to the general public but still visited by special appointment) and Tutankhamun.

The Facsimile of the tomb of Tutankhamun was completed at the end of 2010 and was due to have been installed in Egypt in early 2011. As a result of the changes that happened in Egypt the University of Basel, Factum Arte and the Friends of the Royal Tombs had to store the tomb until 2014.

On the 30th 2014 April the facsimile of the tomb of Tutankhamun was opened to the public by the minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, the Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zazou, The Governor of Luxor, Tarek Saad el Din, the EU ambassador James Moran and about 25 other ambassadors from the EU countries, Malaysia, Mexico, India and elsewhere.

Factum Arte's Pedro Miró and Gregoire Dupond working in the tomb, March-May 2009.

The Seti laser scanner, specially designed for the Supreme Council of Antiquities, recording the figure of Tutankhamun on the east wall of his burial chamber, March 2009.

3D data recorded with the Seti scanner in the tomb of Tutankhamun, at a resolution of a 100 microns. The data contains 100,000,000 independently measured points per square meter. At this resolution it is possible to study and understand the complexity of the surface and to monitor its decay.

The importance of the work

The proposal to carry out a detailed documentation of the complete tombs of Seti I, Nefertari and Tutankhamun and the production of accurate facsimiles has been approved by the Supreme Council of Antiquities following a successful feasibility study carried out by Factum Arte in 2002. The project is being directed by the University of Basel and the work managed and undertaken by Factum Arte, Madrid, in conjunction with Erik Hornung, Emeritus Professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel, and Theodor Abt, president of the Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt.

Detailed practical plans exist to carry out and fund this work. The initial funding to record the Tomb of Tutankhamun was provided by The Society of Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt, Factum Arte and the Factum Foundation (formerly the Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation). The actual recording work started on 16th March 2009. It was was completed on the 6th May. Work will begin to record the Tombs of Nefertari and Seti I as soon as the funding and political situation allows. The unprecedented resolution of the recording processes and the substantial surface area of the tombs (Seti I has approx 2500 square meters of relief polychrome surface) will require several years to record. The fabrication of the exact facsimiles can begin at Factum Arte’s workshops in Madrid and in new workshops that will be established in Luxor as soon as the data starts being processed.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities has approved the following work:

The digital recording in three dimensions (at a resolution of between 100 and 700 microns) and colour recording (1:1 digital photographs at a resolution of 600 - 800 DPI) of all of the decorated surfaces within the tombs of SETI I, NEFERTARI and TUTANKHAMUN.
The creation of an exact facsimile of each tomb.
An exhibition built around the facsimiles that will be permanently installed on the West Bank.
The creation of a digital archive consisting of all the high-resolution data recorded during the documentation of the tomb. This archive will be essential for monitoring the future condition of the tombs.
The copyright of the data will belong to the Supreme Council of Antiquities. A significant transfer of technology and training will also result in a permanent laser scanning unit managed by the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

This will result in the highest resolution large-scale facsimile project ever undertaken. It will set new standards for the use of facsimiles in conservation. New 3D scanning systems have been developed specifically for use in the tombs. The 3D recording is being done at a resolution of 100 microns with 100,000,000 independently measured points per sq meter. A colour photographic system has been developed with low level cold lights to record the painted surfaces at 1:1 at 600 - 800 DPI. The entire tombs of Seti I and Nefertari will be recorded along with the burial chamber and sarcophagus from the tomb of Tutankhamun.


Technology at the service of conservation and preservation

The use of new technologies to record and reveal the complex histories of these tombs has already proved very popular with the public. The aim is to turn this public interest into a force assisting in the protection of the tombs. It is anticipated that the facsimiles will receive at least 500,000 paying visitors a year. A facsimile of the tomb of Tuthmosis III was made by Factum Arte and has now been visited by over 2 million people. The facsimiles will re-integrate all the fragments removed in the C19th. Most of these fragments are now in museums in Europe and the USA. An exhibition relating to each tomb will focus on its biography and will reveal the reasons for their continued importance and relevance.


Report on the work completed in the tomb of Tutankhamun
Season March -May 2009

Supreme Council of Antiquities
University of Basel
Factum-Arte, Madrid
The Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation.
Erik Hornung, Emeritus Professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel
Theodor Abt, president of the Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt
Department of Laser technology and Conservation at the SCA

The work is being managed and undertaken by Factum Arte, Madrid.

All work is being carried out in co-operation with the Department of Laser Technology and Conservation at the SCA and a transfer of equipment and training will take place throughout the project.

The Team working in the Tomb of Tutankhamun consisted of:
Adam Lowe - Head of Mission and Director of Factum Arte
Grégoire Dupond - Acting head of mission (when Adam Lowe was not present) and Head of Photography and technical development at Factum Arte.
Pedro Miró - Head of 3D scanning at Factum Arte
Piers Wardle - Laser Scanning and Photography
Naoko Fukumaru - Chief Conservator at Factum Arte
Alicia Guirao - Photography and documentation

Mohammed Khalil - SCA Inspector
Magdy Mansour - SCA department of Laser Technology and Conservation

It is important to note that each tomb presents specific recording challenges. Tutankhamun’s tomb is small and the sarcophagus and sarcophagus lid reduce the available working space with the distance between the sarcophagus and the wall of 126 cm at the narrowest point. Work was carried out without interrupting the normal flow of visitors. Throughout the recording work the tomb remained open to the public. On busy days approximately 1000 people visit the tomb. The visitor numbers have a dramatic effect on the temperature and humidity in the space.

Most visitors showed a great interest in the work that was being carried out and many expressed concern that their presence had a destructive impact on the preservation of the tombs.

One of Harry Burton’s photographs taken soon after the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The section on the left is no longer in the tomb. Once its exact location has been identified it will be recorded and reintegrated into the facsimile. Photograph from the Griffith Institute, Oxford.

The lorry arriving at Marsam Hotel, Gourna on Friday 13th March. It had taken 12 days to clear everything through customs in Cairo. The customs clearance was finally made possible by a guarentee underwritten by the Swiss Embassy. After leaving Cairo the lorry was involved in a crash 200 km south of Cairo and all the boxes had to be moved to a new lorry.

Loading the boxes onto a tractor and trailor to move them to the Valley of the Kings.

The boxes arriving in the Valley of the Kings escorted by Adam Lowe and Alicia Guirao on the left and Gregoire Dupond on the right.

Unloading the boxes into storage in KV3. Due to the space limitations in Tutankhamun most of the equipment, that was specially designed for use in the tomb of Seti I, had to be stored in KV3 and moved into the tomb as it was required.

Loading the Seti laser scanner into the truck at Marsam hotel after extensive testing to ensure no damage had occurred during transport.

The Seti scanning frame being lifted into the tomb of Tutankhamun after the sarcophagus lid had been covered with a wooden structure to protect it during the work.

"SETI" low intensity red light laser 3D scanner. Resolution of 100 microns


This equipment was used for 14 days to record both small ends of the sarcophagus and about 2 square meters of the east section of the north wall and 1.5 square meters of the east wall. There are over 70 individual scans. The time spent scanning relatively small surfaces was due in part to handling and setup of the equipment inside the confined space of the tomb. Safety was our first priority and we took all necessary steps to ensure that the tomb, the team and the equipment were protected. It was decided to stop using that equipment when recording became difficult in tight spaces.

This equipment was handled by Grégoire Dupond and Piers Wardle.

The Seti Laser scanner mounted onto the linear guide frame that was specially designed for use in the tomb of Seti I. This is a scanning system designed to record painted surface with shallow relief. A new generation scanning head is currently in production.


NUB 3D white light 3D scanner.
Resolution of 250 to 700 microns

This equipment was used for 32 days to record the whole of the tomb.

Nub 3D structured light scanner recording the west side of the sarcophagus.

Pedro Miro working with the Nub 3D structured light scanning system to record the South Wall. The data being recorded appears on the monitor allowing an initial check to me made during recording.


Phase One

H25 digital back on a Hasselblad MF
camera with an 80mm lens.1:1 at 800 dpi

This equipment was used for the first few days in the tomb to do a survey of different parts of the tomb and to record the seals in the treasury. This equipment was handled by Alicia Guirao.


A Canon EOS5DII with a 100 mm or 180mm lens.
1:1 at 600-800 dpi

This equipment was used for 21 days.
For the first 3 days the camera was used on a computer controlled 3 axis machine (the same one used for the SETI 3D scanner - see above).
It was then used for 18 days mounted onto a 1 axis computer controlled machine specially designed for use in the cramped spaces of the tomb. This system was designed by Factum Arte, made and shipped to Luxor.
Over 8000 individual shots resulting in 16000 files were necessary to cover the whole of the tomb, with approximately 100 shots per square meter. The resolution of these photographs is between 600 – 800 DPI at 1:1.
This equipment was handled by Grégoire Dupond, Piers Wardle and Naoko Fukumaru.

Due to space restrictions in the tomb a new linear guide structure was made, tested and used in the tomb for the majority of the photographic recording.

The specially designed photographic system recording the walls of the tomb of Tutankhamun in March 2009. Operated by Gregoire Dupond.


Work Monitoring and Colour Recording in the Tomb

Factum Arte’s conservator, Naoko Fukumaru was monitoring the team and the equipment paying special attention to safety of the tomb. She also was in charge of taking colour samples that are an important part in the production of the facsimiles. In order to produce a facsimile that has accurate colours it is necessary to be able to compare colours of the original with colours of the facsimile.

Over 150 different colour samples were created on paper sticks and compared to colours on the walls. Matching colours would then be noted and located precisely. Over 500 different sticks were recorded. Naoko Fukumaru also took macro photographs of these specific locations and recorded other important characteristics of the surface.

The system used to ensure accurate colour matching during the production of the facsimile uses specially prepared colour sticks that are matched to the exact tone and brilliance of the colour on the wall.

Naoko Fukumaru, Factum Arte’s conservator carrying out colour matching on the North wall.

Routing the 3D data at a resolution of 100 microns to produce an exact relief surface of the wall of the room of Tutankhamun.

The accurate milling of the surface in three dimensions ensures objective accuracy and results in an exact facsimile. This is the most expensive and time consuming part of the production process. When cutting at the highest resolution each section of 52 x 52 cm takes approximately 78 hours to machine.

Once the surface has been milled it is then moulded, cast printed and finished by hand. It is this level of obsession with the detail of the surface that results in a convincing facsimile.

A photograph of one of the seals taken during the recording in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The coloured area in the centre is collaged from three different seals and is the first stage of a physical reconstruction of one of the seals.

A photograph of one of the broken seals in the tomb.

Factum Arte’s conservator, Naoko Fukumaru was monitoring the team and the equipment paying special attention to safety of the tomb. She also was in charge of taking colour samples that are an important part in the production of the facsimiles. In order to produce a facsimile that has accurate colours it is necessary to be able to compare colours of the original with colours of the facsimile.

Further documentation


To see the english version of the full report on the scanning of the tomb of Tutankhamun for the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), click here.
To see the arabic version of the full report on the scanning of the tomb of Tutankhamun for the SCA, click here.

Related videos

Share

Facebook  Twitter

© Copyright 2017
Aviso Legal. LOPD