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Etruscanning application installed in the Villa Giulia

Villa Giulia

The Italian National Etruscan Museum is located in the Villa Giulia in Rome (photo: Eva Pietroni)

In July 2014, the final application of the Monte Michele application has been installed in the Villa Giulia, the National Museum of Italy for Etruscan Art.  The system is implemented as a large screen and touch pad, next to the glass case that contains a selection of remains of Tomb number 5 at Monte Michele.

Villa Giulia Museum: the showcase containing Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

 Showcase containing Monte Michele Tomb 5 remains (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

Etruscanning system

Etruscanning system next to the Tomb 5 showcase (photo: Eva Pietroni)

The application allows the visitor to see the tomb as it is today, as it was during excavation and as it probably was at the moment it was built.  The application is built as an interactive movie that plays those three different visualisations simultaneously, plus interviews with Francesca Boitani, who directed the excavations of the tomb.

The application shows also interviews with the archaeologist (photo: Eva Pietroni)

The application shows also interviews with the archaeologist (photo: Eva Pietroni)

The application had been shown already at the Digital Heritage Expo (Digital Heritage Conference in Marseille, 2013) organised by V-MusT.net, click here for a description and more images.

Monte Michele at Digital Heritage in Marseille

Monte Michele Tomb 5 at the Digital Heritage Expo in Marseille (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

Monte Michele tomb number 5 in 3D

In our previous post, we showed the final 3D models of some objects chosen from the grave goods of Monte Michele tomb number 5.  Now it’s time to show you some images of the reconstructed tomb. This is how Monte Michele number 5 tomb most probably looked like from the outside…

3D reconstruction of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5. The Dromos with the entrance on the main chambre and the two lateral ones (image: CNR-ITABC)

3D reconstruction of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, the dromos with the entrance (image: CNR-ITABC)

3D reconstruction of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5. The Dromos with the entrance on one of the lateral rooms (image: CNR-ITABC)

3D reconstruction of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, the dromos with the entrance and one of the lateral rooms (image: CNR-ITABC)

…and from the inside.

3D reconstruction of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5. The interior of the main chambre (image: CNR-ITABC)

3D reconstruction of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, the interior of the main chambre (image: CNR-ITABC)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is being partially funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

Steps forward – approaching the final result

While the work on the digital application about the Monte Michele number 5 tomb is in progress, we would like to show you some of our last results.  After the completion of the virtual reconstruction and restoration process of the objects by Visual Dimension, CNR-ITABC worked on their optimisation. The following images show you the final result of our work!

Bronze Urn of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, new version (image: Visual Dimension and CNR ITABC)

The bronze urn of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, new version with optimised materials (image: CNR-ITABC)

The sceptre of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, new version (image: Visual Dimension and CNR-ITABC)

The sceptre of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, new version (image: CNR-ITABC)

Golden fibula of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, new version (image: CNR ITABC)

Golden fibula of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, new version (image: CNR-ITABC)

One of the spears in Monte Michele tomb nr. 5 (image: CNR ITABC)

One of the spears in Monte Michele tomb nr. 5 (image: CNR-ITABC)

Vase from the grave goods of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5 (image: CNR ITABC)

Vase from the grave goods of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5 (image: CNR-ITABC)

Oinochoe from the grave goods of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5 (image: CNR-ITABC)

Oinochoe from the grave goods of Monte Michele tomb nr. 5 (image: CNR-ITABC)

The carriage in Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, optimised version (image: Visual Dimension and CNR ITABC)

The carriage in Monte Michele tomb nr. 5, optimised version (image: CNR ITABC)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is being partially funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

A glimpse on the reconstruction procedure

Based upon the position in which archaeologists found the remains in Monte Michele tomb number 5, we were able to reconstruct the spatial distribution of the objects with a sufficient level of accuracy.

This is particularly true for the objects on the right side of the tomb, where a wagon occupied a great part of the space.  Several objects were positioned on its load bed, including the cinerary urn with the remains of the man. Together with the urn, there were a dagger, three spears and a sceptre, symbols of  the power that the deceased had in his community.

The following images show the first stage of the reconstruction of this group of objects.

Beck side - The reconstructed wagon with the digitally restored urn and sceptre on it (image: Visual Dimension)

Back side – the reconstructed wagon with the digitally restored urn and sceptre (image: Visual Dimension)

Front side - The reconstructed wagon with the digitally restored urn and sceptre on it  (image: Visual Dimension)

Front side – the reconstructed wagon with the digitally restored urn and sceptre
(image: Visual Dimension)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is being partially funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

Digital restoration of objects from the tomb

The goal of the virtual reality application, that will be displayed in the archaeological museums of Villa Giulia and Formello, is not to simply show a digital replica of a physical object of today but show the beauty of the original object.  For this reason we re-created the original appearance of most of the found objects and not only the initial state of the context. The procedure that allows us to get this result is called digital restoration.

The digital restoration is a scientific process of study and reconstruction of an object that requires a number of different skills.  This process assembles the knowledge about the current state of the object with archaeological and historical studies, detailed observations of and comparisons with other objects that are coeval, from the same place or the same cultural influence.  In this process, the help of Francesca Boitani, the archaeologist who excavated the site at the beginning of 80’s, has been very important.

Among the objects found in the excavated tomb, the most interesting ones were chosen for being digitally restored.  Over both sides of the main chamber, several archaeological remains of a wagon were dispersed. On the left side, they included iron wheels, their hubs and other iron components such as nails and small fittings. On the right side, wooden remains and embossed bronze plates were found. There were seven plates preserved in their total length and several fragments of various dimensions. The position of the remains suggested that the wagon was probably put into the tomb in a disassembled state.

Iron wheels, their hubs and other iron components found on the left side of the chamber during the excavation of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

Iron wheels, their hubs and other iron components found on the left side of the chamber during the excavation of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

Embossed bronze plates found on the right side of the chamber during the excavation of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

Embossed bronze plates and wooden remains found on the right side of the chamber during the excavation of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

The remains were studied in order to create a 3D model of the wagon.

In order to determine the structure of the load bed, we analyzed the wooden rests and the bronze coverings. Unfortunately the position of the latter was not decisive, as the roof of the tomb, collapsing on the objects, scattered them disorderly.  Some of the plates were flat and some were folded along their length. The wooden remains covered an area of about 3 m square along the right wall of the chamber. Considering the wooden surface and the length of the coverings we came up with a wagon with three sideboards.

We analysed the fragments of the wheels in Photoshop.  We concluded that they belong to at least four wheels, around one meter in diameter.

The fragments of the wheels studied in Photoshop (image: Visual Dimension)

The fragments of the wheels studied in Photoshop (image: Visual Dimension)

The metal structure of the hubs, with a rectangular hole, suggested that wheels were fixed to the axle and rotated together. The revolving axle system was used for slow vehicles.

The hub with a rectangular hole. It was reinforcing the central part of the wheel. Wheels were fixed to the axle and rotated together (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

The hub with a rectangular hole. It was reinforcing the central part of the wheel. Wheels were fixed to the axle and rotated together (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

An important uncertainty about the structure of the wagon concerned the number of wheels. On this point, archaeologists are divided. Since its discovery, it was thought to be a four-wheeled wagon, but recently the hypothesis of two two-wheeled carts has been proposed. This theory originates from the observation that no attested example of a four-wheeled wagon had been found south of the Alps. For this reason it was suggested that the remains in the tomb belong to two two-wheeled carts. Because there is potential evidence that the front part was rotating, we chose to reconstruct a four-wheeled wagon.

3D reconstruction of the carriage (image: Visual Dimension)

3D reconstruction of the wagon (image: Visual Dimension)

The last phase of the process was the digital restoration of the bronze coverings. The decoration, in repoussé, was subdivided in three different parts.  In the top and bottom part, it was composed by a braid motif (guilloches) and in the central part by a floral motif of rosettes.

One of the bronze plate before the restoration (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

One of the bronze plate before restoration (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

Using Photoshop, we created the depth map of all the plates. This black and white image shows the relief of the object, with light tones depicting higher parts and darker tones the deeper parts.

Depth map of the bronze plate (image: Visual Dimension)

Depth map of the bronze plate (image: Visual Dimension)

We used these depth maps in TIFF Format in Blender as normal maps for the digital coverings.

We worked also on other objects in order to get their virtual reconstruction. Amongst the objects that originally were placed on the wagon, there were a sceptre and a cinerary urn that was crushed.  To restore its decoration, we created a depth map, while the 3D reconstruction of its shape was made in Blender.

Fragments of the urn before the excavation (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

Fragments of the urn before the excavation in the lab (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

3D reconstruction of the urn (image: Visual Dimension)

3D reconstruction of the urn (image: Visual Dimension)

The sceptre was composed by a wooden stick, decorated by silver pins and by a bronze orb, decorated with iron inlays forming a series of Phoenician palmettos and a four-pointed star on its top. Its preservation state was good enough to allow a 3D reconstruction in Blender.

Scepter in the Villa Giulia museum (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

Sceptre in the Villa Giulia museum (photo: Villa Giulia museum)

3D restoration of the scepter (image: Visual Dimension)

3D restoration of the sceptre (image: Visual Dimension)

The process of digital restoration of all the objects in Monte Michele nr. 5 tomb is described on http://worldwidemuseum.wordpress.com/

This blog is part of the Etruscanning project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Digitisation of objects from the tomb

When archaeologists found Monte Michele number 5 tomb, in the 80’s, it contained a great number of objects that formed the grave goods of the four people entombed in it. Today all these objects are preserved in the Villa Giulia Museum in Rome.

Grave goods in the main room of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

Grave goods in the main room of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

Villa Giulia Museum: the showcase containing Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

Villa Giulia Museum: the showcase containing Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

The most important objects have been digitised in order to create the virtual reality application and present them to the public together with the explanation of their use and meaning.

The state of preservation of the objects varies significantly and some of them are highly fragile. For this reason the digitisation made by CNR-ITABC researchers was not easy, they had to follow a different approach for every object. In this post we show you how they did it.

When an object was strong enough to be taken from the showcase, it was digitised using photogrammetry.

Digitization procedure: the object on the turning table is photographed from different angles (photo: CNR-ITABC)

Digitization procedure: the object on the turning table is photographed from different angles (photo: CNR-ITABC)

It was put on a turning table (Seitz Roundshot VR Drive) against a neutral background. To acquire the images, CNR researchers used a specific set of lights (a lamp with LED lights and a very soft flash) in order to avoid shadows.

Roundshot VR Drive

Roundshot VR Drive

The rotation angle of the turning table was set to 10 degrees so that 36 images of the object were taken for a complete rotation. The process was repeated three times with different tilt angles of the camera respect to the object in order to have a very detailed model and a high-resolution texture.

The 3D model obtained with the photogrammetry technique has a very high number of polygons. This is very important when the 3D model needs to be used to increase the understanding of the physical object.

This is the case with an ivory truncated-cone object: archaeologists have not a clear idea of what kind of object it belongs to and which was its function, but it was finely engraved with a series of winged sphinxes. Due to the poor condition of the object and the artificial lights of the showcase, it is very difficult to appreciate its decoration. On the contrary the 3D model, thanks to its adjustable light, clearly shows the shape of sphinxes.

Digitization of the ivory truncated-cone object: process and result (image: CNR-ITABC)

Digitisation of the ivory truncated-cone object: process and result (image: CNR-ITABC)

There were other objects that did not need to be shown in such a detailed way. In these cases CNR researchers used the same technology to digitise them, but processed the data in a different way.

For some of the vases, for example, they used few images acquired all around the object to have a simple but geometrically correct 3D model; then this was used as a guideline to manually model a new 3D object with a lower number of polygons.

Low-polygons digitization process (Image: CNR-ITABC)

Low-polygons digitization process (Image: CNR-ITABC)

This technique was used to create the dummy 3D models showing the position of the objects in the original stratigraphy.

Rough models showing the position of the objects in the original stratigraphy (image: CNR-ITABC)

Dummy models showing the position of the objects in the original stratigraphy (image: CNR-ITABC)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

Monte Michele tomb 5 reconstructed

This blog post shows the process of digitisation and reconstruction of tomb number 5 in Monte Michele.

The Monte Michele tomb number 5 is situated in the necropolis of Veii, on the northern side of the road between Capena and the north-east gate at the Veii city walls. It was the central tomb of a group of six tombs: as these tombs were separated from the rest of the necropolis, archaeologists suppose that they belong to a single family clan.

Plan of the archaeological site of Veii. The drawing shows the disposition of the six tombs in the necropolis.

Plan of the archaeological site of Veii, showing the position of the six tombs in the necropolis (Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologica dell’Etruria Meridionale)

It is a princely tomb from the middle Orientalising period, dated 670-650 BC. It is a chamber tomb approximately 4,5 by 4,5 meters square, with two small cellae (side chambers), accessed from a dromos, the access to the entrance.

It contained four interments, probably of members of the same family. In the left side chamber, the skeleton of a child without grave goods was found on the ground, in the right side chamber the archaeologists found the cremated remains of a man aged 18 to 20 years, contained in a large stamnos (a vessel for storing and mixing liquids).

Plan of the main chamber of Monte Michele nr. 5 tomb with the indication of the position of gravegoods.(Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologica dell’Etruria Meridionale)

Plan of the main chamber of Monte Michele nr. 5 tomb with the indication of the position of grave goods (Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologica dell’Etruria Meridionale)

The large chamber contained two interments. On the left there was a woman, identified as such from the grave goods, which chiefly consisted of ceramics and feminine jewellery.  On the right side of the chamber, a bronze urn contained the remains of a man. His grave goods were situated on the floor, occupying almost the entire space of the room.

Unfortunately, despite its importance, the tomb is today difficult to reach and for this reason it is out of the tourist circuits in the Veii Necropolis. Moreover, its structure, excavated in tuff, is highly perishable. The lack of a fence and some missing roof elements caused significant erosion of the walls. Only the grave goods, which are exhibited in the Etruscan Museum of the Villa Giulia in Rome, are accessible to the public.

The way to the tomb (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

The way to the tomb (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

For this reason, one of the main goals of the Etruscanning project is the digital reconstruction of the tomb and of the objects found in it. The result of our work will be a digital application that will be shown in the Villa Giulia museum, next to the objects, and in the Archaeological museum of Formello, close to the necropolis.

Thanks to this application, the public of the two museums will be able to appreciate the tomb and to discover the objects in their original position, with a particular focus on the archaeological process of excavation and study of the remains.

Preparing the virtual reconstruction of the tomb: the digitisation

The first step in the process is the digitisation of the tomb itself. Available technologies offer different possibilities, depending on the available equipment, on the characteristics of the object that has to be digitised and on the result that has to be achieved.

CNR-ITABC staff scanning the tomb (photo CNR-ITABC)

CNR-ITABC staff scanning the tomb (photo: CNR-ITABC)

In this project, CNR-ITABC decided to test and compare two different techniques: laser scanning and digital photogrammetry.

The Riegl LMS Z390i laser scanner

The Riegl LMS Z390i laser scanner

The laser scanner technology acquires a dense point cloud with high accuracy, the result is a highly detailed 3D model of the scanned object, which however needs to be mapped with external colour images.

The photogrammetry technique allows us to determine the geometric properties of an object from digital photographic images. This method, in combination with the use of dedicated software, allows us to built a 3D model of an object simply by acquiring a set of images of the object itself.

To scan the tomb area, the CNR team used the Riegl LMS Z390i laser scanner, scans were made from 6 positions for a total of more than 5 million points. The result is a model of 900.000 faces.

In order to built a model with the second technique, the CNR team acquired about 100 images of the site that afterwards had been processed with Agisoft Photoscan, a software that automatically builds textured 3D models from still images.

The comparison of the two models had been carried out in Rapidform, a 3D software which revealed that the difference between the two models is included in the range +/- 4 cm and the average error of 3 mm, values that are acceptable in a virtual reality application.

Scan-stations in Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (Image from CNR-ITABC)

Scan positions in Monte Michele nr.5 tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

3D model of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb obtained with automated 3d modelling: Agisoft Photoscan (image CNR-ITABC)

3D model of Monte Michele nr.5 tomb obtained with automated 3D modelling by Agisoft Photoscan (image: CNR-ITABC)

The virtual reconstruction

In this project, the virtual reconstruction is not only a digital replica of a physical object, but includes the study of all the available information on the archaeological site in order to re-create its original state.

Unfortunately, at the time of its discovery the roof had collapsed on the tomb. The structure was already compromised so that we cannot be sure about its original volume. Some remains show that beams were sculpted on the roof, resembling contemporary houses, and that some parts were plastered in red.

Monte Michele nr.5 tomb at the moment of its discovery (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

Monte Michele nr.5 tomb at the moment of its discovery (photo: Villa Giulia Museum)

By comparing the images of 1980, taken during the excavation of the tomb, with the actual ones, it is immediately clear that the structure of the tomb has changed in the last thirty years due to the erosion of the tuff. For this reason, in order to built a hypothesis of the original structure of the tomb it was necessary to compare the actual 3D model with drawings and images taken during its excavation.

Slices extracted from the 3D model of the tomb (Image: CNR-ITABC)

Slices extracted from the 3D model of the tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

Cross sections were extracted from the 3D model and matched with the map of the excavation. In this way it was immediately clear in which parts of the structure there was still a correspondence. Then the missing parts were built with the help of the archaeologist Francesca Boitani, who excavated the tomb, and by the comparison with other tombs of the same period and the same area.

Comparison betweet the 3D model and the original plan of the tomb (Image: CNR-ITABC)

Comparison between the 3D model and the original plan of the tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

The threedimensional reconstruction of the tomb gives us the opportunity to visualize and better understand its original structure, as it was very different from the remains of it that can be seen today.

3D reconstruction of the tomb (Image: CNR-ITABC)

3D reconstruction of the tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.