Recording the Tomb of Tutankamun

Luxor, 2009

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A team from Factum Arte led by Gregoire Dupont, Pedro Miró, Piers Wardle and Naoko Fukumaru fully documented and recorded the condition of the tomb of Tutankhamun in Luxor during the Spring of 2009. They recorded the relief and color of burial chamber and sarcophagus of the tomb for over a month using a combination recording systems, obtaining the highest-resolution ever achieved on a large-scale digital documentation project.

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

The Seti Scanner, a low-intensity red light laser 3D scanner, was used to take over 70 individual scans of both the 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 over a period of 14 days.

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 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.

All the walls were recorded with a NUB3D Studio Scanner, a white-light scanning system, at three different resolutions: 200 microns, 400 microns, and 700 microns.

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.

The tomb was also photographed using a Canon EOS5DII with 100mm and 180mm macro lenses. This equipment was mounted onto a 1-axis computer controlled machine, specially designed for the small spaces of the tomb. Over 8,000 individual shots, approximately 100 shots per square meter, were taken at a resolution of between 600 - 800 DPI at 1:1, providing a complete photographic map of the surface.

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

Factum Arte’s conservator, Naoko Fukumaru documented the exact colours of the tomb walls. She compared specially-made colour swatches (referred to as colour sticks), directly to known points on the walls. After centuries of aging and more recent restoration, the walls of the tomb have deteriorated, becoming irregular surfaces with a wide variety of hue and tone within a tiny area. These colour references obtained in the tomb are compared to printed sections of the walls to check and adjust the colour of the facsimile.

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

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.

The data recorded was made public in 2011 to help conservators and visitors monitor and understand the decay of the tomb. View it here.

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