Giza 3D: International Collaboration

By Kate
Triad statues as discovered by the Harvard University--Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition July 11, 1908 Photograph by Badawi Ahmed

Triad statues as discovered by the Harvard University--Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition July 11, 1908 Photograph by Badawi Ahmed

The other day I was reading an article from the L.A. Times archives called Explore Ancient Egypt by Pressing Button.  The article was written in 1989 but could have been published today.

While reading the 1989 article, my eyes paused on the following passage:

“But, Roehrig adds, the cost of the computer systems is still out of reach for many Egyptology departments, and many academics are reluctant to release the information that they have built their careers on. “When people have spent a huge amount of time doing research and they have an article that doesn’t get printed for five years, it is often very hard to persuade people to give you any detailed information until it is actually out in print.”

  • Twenty-one years later, is this still an issue in 2010, the era of ‘crowdsourcing’?
  • What will it take to gain participation from international scholars and experts in the assemblage of Giza 3D?
  • Also, how will Giza 3D attribute credit to owners of the different pieces of research?

Peter Der Manuelian, Giza 3D project head, Giza Archives Project Director at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology at Harvard University was kind enough to answer my questions.

Note there’s a special call to action for you Egypt addicts at the end of this post.

PDM:  Since 1989 there is certainly still a sense of proprietary “ownership” of research, and that’s not such a bad thing. After all, scholars who invest countless hours and resources, or come up with intriguing or revolutionary conclusions deserve to be the first to announce their results, and to get full credit for them.

But the Internet and the acceleration of shared information in recent years have also created new attitudes about sharing data. Archives, institutes, and even individuals with collections are flinging their doors open as never before, at least in electronic form, so we are living in a new golden age of access.

But at the same time, we bear a heavy responsibility for sustainability and preservation, because in many ways, the data have never been so fragile.  It makes you wonder if the Egyptians weren’t on the right path after all: their inscriptions carved on stone are still with us, 4,500 years later, whereas my email from last week or a corrupted digital photo is already gone!

To give you one example of changing attitudes, take the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Many museums post only their top 10 or 100 objects online. Sometimes they feel that the descriptive data for the rest of their collection might not be vetted sufficiently by their curatorial staff. At the MFA, the entire collection is online; that’s 450,000 objects! The images and information are seen as a work in progress, but one that is much more useful shared with the public than hidden away under the pretext of waiting for “perfect data.”

At the Giza Archives Project, we have found that our partners have been more than willing to share their materials. Copyright always remains with the host institution. The posting online of photos and other documents often acts as “advertising,” and could even result in modest revenue, should someone wish to pay for reproduction rights to publish a photo.  When a user clicks on our web link called “Click here to order a publication quality version of this image,” the Giza website automatically generates an email with the appropriate photo ID number and addresses it to the rights and licensing department of the institution in question.

Example of Giza 3D International Collaboration

Example of Giza 3D International Collaboration; the tomb chapel of Nefer reconstructed digitally by Dassault Systèmes from fragments at Giza and all over the world.

Our museum, university, and institute partners are located in Berkeley, Berlin, Cairo, Giza, Hildesheim, Leipzig, Philadelphia, Turin, and Vienna:

Berkeley, CA:
• Hearst Museum of Anthropology

• Egyptian Museum;
• Supreme Council of Antiquities

• Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (“Ältägyptisches Wörterbuch Project”);
• Ägyptisches Museum

• Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA)

• Pelizaeus-Museum;
• Stadtarchiv, Hildesheim

• Ägyptisches Museum, Universität Leipzig

Philadelphia, PA:
• University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

• Museo Egizio di Torino;
• Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

• Kunsthistorisches Museum;
• Ägyptologisches Institut der Universität Wien.

These institutions had a direct hand in excavating at Giza. But beyond these “major players,” there are still many more museums and institutes with Giza objects, photographic collections, or other archives.

I would like to make a general request for all institutions or individuals with Giza holdings to contact us about adding their materials to the Giza website.

Our ultimate goal is to preserve and post the world’s collected archaeological knowledge about the Giza pyramids, and we can only accomplish this challenge with the help of the world community.

For example, how about all those tourists who glided over Giza in the Graf Zeppelin in early April 1931? Are there aerial photos of the Pyramids stashed away in attics in Germany or elsewhere in Europe? We want to hear from those people!

Graf Zeppelin over Khafre pyramid, looking east April 9, 1931 Photograph by Mohammedani Ibrahim

Graf Zeppelin over Khafre pyramid, looking east April 9, 1931 Photograph by Mohammedani Ibrahim

Well I’m glad I asked!  Ten-four Peter.

Allez you Egypt addicts– please leave a note in this blogpost’s comments section if you think you have something to contribute to Giza 3D! You can also upload images to give us an idea if you like.



P.S. Volcano willing, I’ll be hanging out at the MFA with Peter next week for some live blogging.  Stay tuned . . .

P.P.S.  See my interview with Peter about what excites him the most about Giza 3D.

3DVIA for Operating Room Designs that Work

By Bernie

11-12-2009 2-02-26 PM-1

I often say that I have the coolest job at Dassault Systèmes. That’s because I get to spend my days with our customers, learning about all the amazing ways they’re using our solutions to make the world a better place.

For example, have you ever thought about how hospital operating rooms get designed? Modern operating rooms are packed with equipment and people. Everything has to be close at hand without being in the way. The room must be easy to navigate, yet make effective use of space. Lighting must be perfect. And when the surgery is done, every surface – even the floor – must be accessible for effective sterilization.

Clearly, the architects who design the rooms and the equipment suppliers who outfit them need a lot of input from medical professionals to achieve a room that functions at peak efficiency. But medical professionals aren’t architects. They don’t have experience reading blueprints. They might get one chance in the course of an entire career to offer their input on an operating room design. And if they make a mistake, they might have to live with it for years.

Operating room equipment and systems supplier BERCHTOLD knows the challenges well.  Although it tried many approaches over the years, it never found an ideal solution for helping doctors and nurses picture the operating rooms they were helping to design – until it teamed up with EwingCole DMG, the 3D modeling and interactive applications division of a Philadelphia-based architectural and engineering firm.

11-12-2009 2-00-11 PM-1

EwingCole DMG built a 3D operating room visualization environment for BERCHTOLD in 3DVIA Virtools. Virtools allows operating room personnel to “build” a virtual operating room in real-time in 3D and then move around the room just as they would during an operation to validate the room’s functionality. If they find a clash or an inconvenient placement, their BERCHTOLD sales rep can change it in a few clicks. And it all runs on the BERCHTOLD reps’ standard-issue laptops, so they can take it anywhere.

“We love it,” says John Mueller, architectural design supervisor for BERCHTOLD.

“The 3DVIA Virtools operating room visualization application helps our customers see what they’re trying to achieve much faster and with fewer design ‘mistakes,’ and it easily facilitates input from broad and diverse teams of hospital workers. It really helps people who aren’t architects visualize these rooms.”

Dave Buchhofer, technical director at EwingCole DMG, says 3D visualization is critical to designing operating rooms that work at peak efficiency.

“You see things in 3D that you’d never catch in 2D renderings. Using 3D models to do interference and clash detection makes the process more time- and cost-efficient.”

And with 3DVIA Virtools, EwingCole DMG can quickly and easily update the application each time BERCHTOLD adds new equipment to its offering.

Correcting poor choices on the laptop screen is quick, easy, and costs nothing. It also helps to ensure that all of a hospital’s resources go into building the best possible operating room – not correcting unrecognized issues after construction. That’s good for hospitals and for all of a hospital’s surgery patients. Just one more example of how 3DS solutions help to make the world a better place.

Where do you next expect 3D in the operating room?



Bernie Hearne works in Customer Referecing for Dassault Systèmes.

ENOVIA and Online Communities: Opening the Parachute

By David C.


If you’re a regular follower or contributor to 3D Perspectives, you may be familiar with one of Kate’s posts from last year’s ECF  in which she talked about organic architecture and the possibility of leveraging the ENOVIA V6 platform online. In closing the entry she referenced a quote, “The brain is like a parachute. It works best when opened.” The more I thought about this analogy the more I realized how perfectly it described our current situation.

Like all of the other Dassault Systèmes brands in the coming months we’re going to be launching an external community – in our case it will be focused on ENOVIA users. Our goal is to create an open exchange where people can share ideas, make connections and ultimately feel like their thoughts and ideas are being heard.

So while the brain analogy makes sense, what happens if you apply it to online communities instead? In many respects it works even better!! Traditionally we’ve been the gate keepers for our users’ interaction with the DS universe – active in a linear, often closed dialogue with individuals or groups of users. Now we have the opportunity to truly “open the parachute” by leveraging the growing acceptance and adoption of cloud computing to engage in a completely different conversation; one where the interaction is organic, non-linear and ultimately driven by the user.

So here we stand – both feet at the edge of the doorway, with the wind whistling by our ears and eyes focused, waiting for the light to turn green. Will the parachute open? No one knows for sure, but what we do know is that we have the technology, the skills and the faith that once we take that step we’ll land safely.

Care to join the journey? We’re very keen to hear from other people who have either made that leap, waiting for the next plane to arrive or simply on the ground admiring the spectacle.



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