3,300 years ago when Assyrians attacked the ancient city of Nuzi in modern-day Iraq they smashed temples and destroyed artifact. They had no idea that 3,300 years later archaeologists are able undo some of the damage using 3D printing technology.
(Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)
Technicians at Harvard's Semitic Museum are attempting to re-create a 2-foot-long ceramic lion that likely flanked an image of the goddess Ishtar in Nuzi, which is the modern archaeological site of Yorghan Tepe. Most part of the ceramic lion were destroyed, the museum holds only two pieces of the fragmentary lion, its front paws and a larger chunk of rump and back legs.
For restoring this lion to its original form, Harvard's Semitic Museum borrowed an intact lion from the University of Pennsylvania. Technicians from Learning Sites Inc came to the museum and took more than 120 images of the intact statue. Then they used computer software to knit the images together to create 3D models.
These digitals models can be used to reconstruct the missing parts of Semitic Museum's ceramic lion. In fact archaeologists not only restored the original shape of ceramic lion but also printed it out on a 3D printer using high-density foam.
(Photo credit: Harvard)
Museum assistant director Joseph Greene said the project is partly driven by the desire to re-create the damaged lion and partly by a commitment to use the latest technology to probe the thousands of artifacts in the museum's collection in search of new data from them.
"It's important to devote our time and attention to objects we have in our collection and to apply the latest techniques, techniques not dreamed of when [the artifacts] were dug up," Greene said. "There's a continual curiosity: What more can we learn? What hasn't been tried so far? Can we wring new data from objects that have been in our basement for 80 years?"
For hundreds of years, archaeologists who wanted to examine a statue might have had to travel halfway around the world. But now these digital 3D models provide a chance for researchers anywhere in the world to see a one-of-a-kind statue, to rotate, zoom in and out, and examine in detail.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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