Recording the tomb of Seti I

Burial Chamber recorded in Luxor,
Sarcophagous at the Sir John Soane Museum
Fragments recorded in European and American Collections

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Over the course of a year, a Factum Arte team travelled three continents recording the tomb of Seti I, the most breathtaking and intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

The chambers of the tomb were scanned and photographed in Luxor in May 2016. The sarcophagus and various objects from the original tomb were documented at the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. More than twenty wall fragments removed after the tomb´s discovery in 1817 by Giovanni Battista Belzoni were examined and registered in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the National Archaeological Museum of Florence, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection) and the Louvre Museum.

The burial chamber, the sarcophagus and the fragments were documented using the most suitable combination of high-resolution technologies for recording each object. As systems capture details, scale and information differently, it is important to use the appropriate technology. These techniques include close & long-range 3D laser scanning, high definition colour composite photography and short & mid-range photogrammetry.

Comparison between the maximum resolution possible with the Faro LiDAR scanner (left) and a normal recording with the Lucida Laser Scanner (right). The file preparation and CNC strategy are constant.

Scanning

Despite the heavy influx of tourists following the tomb´s re-opening in November 2016, Factum Arte successfully completed a 3D survey of the tomb using a FARO Focus 3D x 130 Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS).The data obtained with this system provided information about the general geometry and spatial dimensions of the tomb.

  • Faro LiDAR scan of the area beyond the Hall of Beauties.
  • Setting up to record with the Faro Scanner inside the tomb of Seti I

The walls in rooms I and J of the burial chamber in Luxor were scanned with the Lucida 3D Scanner, a system designed by artist and engineer Manuel Franquelo and built by Factum Arte. Two Lucida Scanners recorded the relief of over 70% of these walls.

  • The Lucida 3D Scanner was used to record the relief of the walls of the tomb.
  • Carlos Bayod and Aliaa Ismail scanning the walls in the Hall of Beauties with the Lucida 3D Scanner. Tomb of Seti I, May 2016
  • Two Lucida 3D Scanners were used inside the tomb.
  • Aliaa Ismail teaching how to set up one of the Lucida 3D Scanners - the scanner will be used to scan all the walls in the tomb of Seti I and will end up in the new training centre at Stoppelaere's House in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor

The fragments removed from Seti´s burial chamber preserved in museum collections in Boston, Paris and Berlin were also scanned with this system at a resolution of about 100 microns.

  • Scanning The goddess Hathor welcomes Seti I with the Lucida 3D Scanner at the Louvre Museum.
  • A panel from the same column was recorded at the Museo Archeologico di Firenze

Photography

High-definition colour composite photography was carried-out by Factum´s Gabriel Scarpa inside the tomb providing critical information for colour matching and understanding the unfinished walls. These walls were mostly drafted and have been fully carved.

  • Colour composite photography provides critical information for colour matching
  • Panoramic photos are stitched using PTGUI and Lightroom/Photoshop software.

Photogrammetric recording, the process of capturing multiple superimposed photographs an object, was used to document the interior of the tomb. Factum Arte´s Gabriel Scarpa and Pedro Miró, recorded areas inaccessible to the Lucida 3D Scanner such as corners, the top and bottom of walls and ceilings.

Factum Arte´s Gabriel Scarpa carrying out photogrammetric recording of one of the walls in the Hall of Beauties

Photogrammetry was also used for recording the alabaster sarcophagus at the Sir John Soane´s Museum at a resolution of about one-tenth of a millimetre. Working over a five-day period in the confined space of the crypt of the museum, Pedró Miro and Manuel Franquelo and Ferdinand Saumarez-Smith took over 4,500 photographs with a 50 megapixel Canon 5DSR. The camera was mounted onto a motorised rig, with two flashes placed at a 45º angle to control the light on the surface. The interior of the sarcophagus was recorded using a hand-held setup and a blue laser system, to minimize diffraction on the translucent alabaster surface.

  • Manuel Franquelo and Pedro Miró from Factum Arte recording the sarcophagus of Seti I at the Sir John Soane´s Museum
  • Manuel Franquelo and Pedro Miró from Factum Arte recording the sarcophagus of Seti I at the Sir John Soane´s Museum
  • Manuel Franquelo and Pedro Miró from Factum Arte recording the sarcophagus of Seti I at the Sir John Soane´s Museum
  • Manuel Franquelo and Pedro Miró from Factum Arte recording the sarcophagus of Seti I at the Sir John Soane´s Museum
  • Joseph Gandy's watercolours show the sarcophagus as a white alabaster form with blue inlay. Its colour has deteriorated over time.

Processing the data

Processing the data of the burial chamber, the sarcophagus and the fragments involved integrating the output of the various scanning and photographic systems. The low to mid-resolution DEM data obtained with the Faro Scanner and with Photogrammetry was imported into a GIS software, providing a base reference in scale and position for stitching all the Lucida scans in place. A special algorithm was developed to digitally subtract a thin layer of microrelief (a low relief of sub-millimetric accuracy) from the Lucida scans which allows them to be pasted over a smoothed base surface processed from the Faro and photogrammetric data. In this way, the low-relief, high-resolution surface detail from the Lucida data was superimposed onto the general geometry generated by the other systems. Finally, the high-resolution colour image was imported as a colour layer to create a ‘layered map.

  • 3D model of the sarcophagous
  • 3D model of the sarcophagous
  • 3D recording with the Lucida Laser Scanner
  • Composite Colour Photography
  • The colour and 3D data merged.

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