3D digital archaeology

A day of Egyptian temple reconstruction……

I want to outline a little backstory before I get to my day. For the past five months I’ve been working on the reconstruction of the 2000 year old temple unearthed in el-Hibeh, Egypt as part of my Master’s of Digital Media research project. Only the lower third of the temple was relatively intact, so a large portion of the reconstruction has involved extrapolating from research into Egyptian architecture (with helpful guidance from my supervisors; Michael Carter, and Jean Li). There was a German expedition led by Hermann Ranke in 1914 that photographed and documented what remained of the temple at the time. This information has been the foundation for my work (in addition to books by Arnold, Wilkinson, et al).

A recent photo of the temple site at el-Hibeh

Initial construction of the temple.

Now back to my day….which began earlier….at 6:00am. When I rolled out of bed I went straight to my computer to check my e-mail. I was excited to find updates from the entire team in my inbox (I’ve been fortunate to have assembled a small group of highly talented CG artists to help me in the final push). I was happy to find the latest models from Sean Zhang. He has been working on building the digital avatars for the temple’s priests.

My initial sketch, and Sean’s blocking of the avatar.

Joe Chao, had sent me a finished model of the sanctuary’s barque.

And Carlos Santos sent me progression of the surrounding environment, including the mud brick wall that encircled the temple.

After finishing the e-mails and rushing to leave the house, I was off to Ryerson University where I’ve been doing a large portion of the digital work. I spent the majority of the day bringing the main temple into the Unreal Engine. A large portion of the time involved a lot of double checking naming structures in Autodesk’s Maya, and problem solving (I’m relatively new to Unreal….so there’s a bit of a learning curve).

I noticed issues with the floor blocks (which I’ve been toiling over). I think this is caused by the way the game engine handles occlusion, which is making the floor look like a quilt. Hopefully, I don’t have to fully rethink my approach. Regardless of the small setback it’s still a milestone for me, as it signifies the beginning of the final stage….VR testingJ


For more information please check out the official Hibeh Project site at: http://www.hibeh.org


And for updates on the reconstruction process, check out my para-data blog at: https://elhibeh.blog

Archaeology, Animation, and Visual Effects

By Zachary Stockmal, Digital Media Freshman Westphal College
Drexel University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

July 24, 2013

I am a freshman studying Animation and Visual Effects at Drexel University. This summer I am participating in the Drexel STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) Scholars Program. Justin Wu, another Drexel student in the same major and I are currently working with Digital Media professor Dr. Glen Muschio and archaeologists Dr. Patrice Jeppson and Wade Catts. Together we are working with Denise Dennis, the 1st child in the 8th generation of the Dennis family.  The project we are working on concerns the archaeological remains of The Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust. It is a 153-acre property that used to be owned by the free African-American family of Prince Perkins and is now owned by descendants of the Perkins-Dennis family.

Today, we went over a feature map made by McVarish and Catts of John Milner Associates (Historical Preservation and Cultural Resources Services). The map shows architectural remnants of a barn and other structures on the Dennis Farm. We matched that information with photographs of the structures we took of the site 2 weeks ago. This information is going to be used to digitally recreate the barn into an interactive 3D model.

Today was a great start into delving into a rich historical site, and the excitement and encouragement we have received from our mentors is going to make this a worthwhile project.Zachary Stockmal photographs detail of the Dennis Farm barn stone wall. (Photo by Justin Wu.)

African American Archaeology and 3D modeling

By Glen Muschio Associate Professor, Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA  (Posted by the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum webmaster)

Wednesday July 24, 2013

I am a media producer and cultural anthropologist teaching Digital Media at Drexel University. Today I met with Zachary Stockmal and Justin Wu Digital Media STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) students preparing a 3D digital modeling project that will reconstruct a barn, a silo and other structures that once stood on the Dennis Farm (see http://thedennisfarm.org/).  Work is underway with guidance from archaeologists Dr. Patrice Jeppson, Cheyney University and West Chester University, Wade Catts, John Milner Associates, and in consultation with Denise Dennis. The long range plan is to develop a 3D interactive environment that will help tell the story of the farm founded by a free African American family in the Endless Mountains of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 1793.  The farm has remained in the family for 8 generations and family plans are underway to develop it as an educational and cultural center.