Recording the painted caves of Laas Geel
Recording the painted caves of Laas Geel

In collaboration with the Hargeysa Cultural Centre and the Redsea Cultural Foundation, a team from Factum Foundation travelled to Somaliland in July/August to carry out a skills and technology transfer while recording buildings, manuscripts and several sites containing Neolithic paintings.

The team carried out the high-resolution 3D documentation of the painted chambers at Laas Geel: a complex of 22 rock shelters containing some of the earliest known rock art in the region, dating back to an estimated 5,000 years and remarkably preserved. Despite the remarkable condition of the paintings in Laas Geel, both human and natural changes require condition monitoring, new documentation skills and proper infrastructure to preserve the integrity of the site. The Somaliland Government, through its Ministry of Tourism, and the Redsea Cultural Foundation are focussed on ensuring this happens.

In close collaboration with Dr. Jama Musse Jama, director of the Hargeysa Cultural Centre, Factum Foundation recorded seven individual caves using LiDAR, photogrammetry and panoramic composite photography. The complete 3D and colour datasets of Laas Geel, Dhagax Kure and Dhagax Marode were handed to the Hargeysa Cultural Centre, to ensure the high-resolution data stays in the country. It will be shared with the Somaliland authorities when it is fully processed.

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ARCHiVe and Divirod
ARCHiVe and Divirod

Research into new monitoring systems

Following a radio programme on the ARCHiVe project, discussing the digitisation of the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice (The World, September 2020), Factum Foundation was contacted by Divirod, a start-up from Boulder, Colorado. Divirod has developed a pasive radar sensor that uses satellites and locally recorded data to generate accurate hydrological models. The installation of the sensor in late August is part of ARCHiVe's work to document and study both cultural heritage and natural changes on and around the island.

As the sensor starts to log vast quantities of dynamic information, we will be working with the Cini Foundation to find new applications and develop tools that will help provide answers to practical needs.

The digitisation of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore will be featured in the 2021 edition of ARCHiVe Online Academy: an online training program of 30 free lessons divided into 4 thematic areas starting today, until December 20.
More information on how to access the free classes here.

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A New Publication: <i>The Aesthetics of Marble</i>
A New Publication: The Aesthetics of Marble

Coming Soon

The Aesthetics of Marble: From Late Antiquity to the Present, by Dario Gamboni, Gerhard Wolf and Jessica Richardson aims to shed new light on the celebration and uses of marble in art and literature and on the iconic potential of the stone.

Adam Lowe and Charlotte Skene Catling contributed with an essay titled ‘Articulate Stones in the Digital Age. Wrinkles, Scars, Blotches, Bruises, Fractures, Mutilations, Amputations, Dislocations and Restorations’.

If you want to know more about this publication or if you need a copy, please email:

The 15th International Alvar Aalto Symposium – Future of Industry

The 15th International Alvar Aalto Symposium – Future of Industry (August 12-13 2021), focussed on the current challenges of the spaces and milieus of the history, present and future manufacturing industry. Charlotte Skene Catling and Adam Lowe presented the AALTOSIILO as keynote speakers in this event organised by the Alvar Aalto Academy together with the City of Jyväskylä and several other partners. The 2-day programme included besides speeches and conversations, architectural excursions, exhibitions and various public events.

Grinling Gibbons' <i>Crucifixion</i>
Grinling Gibbons' Crucifixion

Revealing a phenomenal artist

In late May 2021, Factum Foundation scanned Gibbons’ Crucifixion (1671), a limewood relief at Dunham Massey, the National Trust property in Cheshire, UK. The complexity of the carving required the merging of multiple layers of 3D data from the Lucida scanner with photogrammetry of the overall shape. The time involved gave us the opportunity to gain an intimate understanding of Grinling Gibbons’ technical genius.

Previews of the model were on show at the exhibition Grinling Gibbons: Centuries in the Making at Bonhams in London (August 3 – 27). The finished 3D model will be on display at Compton Verney from September 24 until 30 January 2021. The exhibition celebrates Gibbons’ tercentenary this year and has been organised by the Grinling Gibbons Society, which commissioned the digitisation of the Crucifixion.

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Factum Foundation and RCU: final phase

Factum Foundation is delighted to announce that the project to record the Nabataean, Dadanite and Lihyanite heritage in the AlUla oasis in high-resolution 3D and colour is in its final phase after two years of intensive work.

Over the past month of recording, the focus moved away from the tomb façades and inscriptions and towards the environments in which they sit. The outcrops from which the tombs were carved in Hegra, the World Heritage Site in AlUla, were recorded in their entirety using photogrammetry.

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Bishop Auckland: work for the Spanish Gallery is almost complete
Bishop Auckland: work for the Spanish Gallery is almost complete

Yeserías (carved plaster decorations) are the embodiment of the co-habitation of Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities in Spain. A number of yeserías were recorded in high-resolution throughout 2020 and 2021, using photogrammetry, LiDAR and the Lucida 3D Scanner in the Royal Alcázar and the Casa de Pilatos in Seville, the Casa de Mesa and the Sinagoga del Transito in Toledo. Facsimiles of the panels will form a plaster ‘lapidarium’ in the rooms created by Factum and Charlotte Skene Catling for the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland.
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Factum and Colnaghi: recording a 16th century tapestry
Factum and Colnaghi: recording a 16th century tapestry

Factum Foundation and Colnaghi are developing an increasingly close relationship. This month we have completed the full colour and 3D recording of both sides of an important tapestry by Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502-1550) woven in about 1530. It is the only surviving tapestry from a series of nine works commissioned by Henry VIII, depicting the life of St. Paul. The resulting digital passport of the object will be essential to monitor the condition of the tapestry and will be used for conservation and research purposes. The data will also inform a study into the stresses placed on the threads holding the tapestry together and will inform a digital reconstruction of the original colour.

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Recording in Venice: Titian's <i>La Sapienza</i>
Recording in Venice: Titian's La Sapienza

For the exhibition 'Tizians Frauenbild' (5 October 2021 - 16 January 2022) at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien, Factum Foundation carried out the recording of Titian’s La Sapienza (c. 1560) at the Biblioteca Marciana.

The painting was recorded on June 16th in Venice using composite photography by Gabriel Scarpa, with the aim of producing a facsimile that will be on display on the vaulted ceiling while the original will be in Wien for the exhibition.

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AI, Tech Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution: an international symposium in Toledo
AI, Tech Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution: an international symposium in Toledo

From the 18th-19th June 2021, a symposium was held to discuss the use and application of advanced technologies in conflict and peacebuilding contexts. Organized by the Instituto de Resolución de Conflictos de la Universidad de Castilla la Mancha (UCLM) and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) in collaboration with the Factum Foundation, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and CITPax, the symposium called upon field experts, AI experts, diplomats, and academics from Spain and beyond to offer insight into the advancement of technology and its potential use for application in the field of mediation.

This symposium provided a platform for discussion amongst specialists to address both the negative aspects of machine learning and AI applied in conflict situations, as well as the positive uses of AI as a tool to achieving peace.

From the discussions held, the participants to the symposium established the ‘Toledo Declaration’, outlining eleven guidelines to form a European Initiative for ‘Technology diplomacy and Artificial Intelligence for conflict prevention and mediation’ endorsed by many partners.

Read the Toledo Declaration
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The <B>A</B>ALTO<B>S</B>IILO Project

Factum Foundation’s new project is the restoration and reuse of the Silo at the Toppila Pulp Mill (on the left of this image). Alvar and Aino Aalto's Silo was a woodchip store in a cellulose factory close to Oulu city centre, just south of the Arctic Circle.

We are working on ways to reuse the Silo as a creative research centre focused on the documentation of industrial buildings in northern Europe, on innovative technologies to record environmental change and research into sustainable materials including cellulose.

We are starting to assemble a group of friends of the AALTOSIILO project.
If you are interested in being part of this dynamic and rapidly-developing project please contact us at

Latest Article: <i>Interview: Factum Foundation’s Ferdinand Saumarez Smith on Preserving the Bakor Monoliths</i>
Latest Article: Interview: Factum Foundation’s Ferdinand Saumarez Smith on Preserving the Bakor Monoliths

Kate Fitz Gibbon from Cultural Property News interviewed Factum Foundation's Ferdinand Saumarez Smith on the challenge to identify and preserve the Bakor Monoliths, and on the projects on rock art carried out by the Foundation. "The trips we have done over the past five years have really been about documentation and dialogue. [...] We’ve brought skills and technology to the table which can make “first-aid” records. And we’ve tried to make it sustainable by offering 3D-documentation training and providing equipment like drones. But that has to go hand in hand with talking to the communities, because at the end of the day, they are going to be the people who preserve them long-term."
Read the full interview on Cultural Property News

Secretary of State permits boutique hotel on historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry site
Secretary of State permits boutique hotel on historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry site

It is with great sadness that we announce the outcome of the Planning Inquiry around the Church Bell Foundry in Whitechapel. Our sadness is really focused on the values that lie behind the decision. Consent has been granted to turn London´s oldest company, founded in 1570 and working until 2017, into a hotel, several restaurants, bars and a private members club.

Over four years of fighting, we have built a movement of like-minded people. With the help of Grayson Perry and other artists, we are now going to demonstrate how new markets for bells will celebrate the vital role they play within the public imagination. Factum Foundation would like to thank everyone who has done so much to support the revitalisation of the foundry.

Read Adam Lowe's full public statement

Photo © John Claridge

Tutankhamun 2022
Tutankhamun 2022

Next year is the hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter and his team. Factum's 3D and colour data, recorded in 2009, is in demand and we are following instructions from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities about how to make the data accessible.

Our 3D-modelling team is currently working on a new 4K model of the tomb that will demonstrate the importance of high-resolution recording.

More on Factum's work on Tutankhamun

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