Giza 3D: 3 Questions for Harvard Professor Peter Der Manuelian

By Kate


I must confess I got excited when I learned about Dassault Systèmes’ partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  The entire Giza Archives in 3D for educational and research experiential/interactive discoveries!

Who would have thought that the Khufu Revealed project would lead to this!?

Curious as I am, and of course thinking about you dear readers, I contacted Peter Der Manuelian, the Giza Archives Project Director at MFA Boston, who is also a Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology at Harvard University. Here’s what I asked Peter:

  1. There’s a lot to be excited about with the digitization of the Giza Archives Project, but what gets you the most jazzed?
  2. Are there any unanswered questions about the Giza plateau that you hope the Giza 3D project will help answer? Can you give an example?
  3. 3. Which sector do you think will be most impacted by the project and why, research or education?

After you read the interview, check out the embedded 3DVIA Virtools flythrough video.  It’s a glimpse of the work-in-progress interactive application, showing certain tombs located at the Giza plateau.

peter1And now . . . Peter!

Q1:  There’s a lot to be excited about with the digitization of the Giza Archives Project, but what gets you the most jazzed?

PDM: Giza is a huge place, dug by many different expeditions over several decades. It’s impossible to get a coherent overview of so much archaeology! So the prospect of a fully immersive, real-time 3D model of the entire site would represent a huge breakthrough for us.

Imagine being able to go anywhere, above ground or below, to enter a decorated tomb chapel, or descend down a burial shaft to view a sarcophagus… The possibilities are limitless. And best of all is that, unlike your average video game, this Giza model is scientifically accurate.

Thanks to collaboration between the MFA and Dassault Systèmes, it is built upon real archaeological data: the old dig photos, drawings, plans, and notes of the original excavators. So that means we can virtually reconstruct original appearances, either in ancient times or during modern excavation times (our early 20th century).

The ceramics and statues will appear in their original locations from almost 5,000 years ago. The wall reliefs, paintings, and inscriptions—some now in museums around the world—will show up back on their original tombs walls, etc.

Q2:  Are there any unanswered questions about the Giza plateau that you hope the Giza 3D project will help answer? Can you give an example?

PDM: Since we can now restore walls, roofs, original colors, and put objects back in place, we can understand the original layout of Giza much better. What particularly interests me are the interrelationships between all the monuments. What was built first? What came later? How did the entire site develop? Answers to these questions help us date the monuments, and reconstruct Egyptian history.

And there are questions of engineering and organization. For example, all those burial shafts extending underground… how did the Egyptians decide where to put them, and how did they avoid crashing into neighboring shafts from earlier generations? Were there necropolis records or archives recording who built what, and where? How long did a tomb’s funerary cult remain in operation, before someone else came along to block access to it with a new tomb of his or her own?

Q3:  Which sector do you think will be most impacted by the project and why, research or education?

PDM: I would say that both scholarly research and general education will benefit immensely from the Giza 3D model. Scholars will be able to view the monuments in ways we never imagined, such as in different chronological layers, rather like peeling an onion. This allows for new research questions and new hypotheses.

And as a teaching tool, in the classroom or the museum, the Giza model works in real time. This means someone might ask a question about the Sphinx, and we can drive the model over to the Sphinx to study it in-depth. Or one might ask about the position of the mummy in the burial shaft, and we can dive down a shaft to view the original layout of the burial chamber.

Many thanks Peter for taking the time to answer my questions!

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Stay tuned for updates on the Giza 3D project.

What do you think so far?



Coconuts, Blood Cells, and Snail Armor – Oh My

By Tim
Crysomallon Squamiferum (Deep Sea Snail) Courtesy MIT

Crysomallon Squamiferum (Deep Sea Snail - MIT)

As the 2010 SIMULIA Customer Conference approaches, it reminds me of a thought-provoking presentation given by Dale Berry of SIMULIA at the 2009 SCC in London. He reminded the audience, of engineers and researchers, that  Realistic Simulation is not only good for evaluating mechanical behavior of product performance, but it’s also an indespenible tool for driving innovative research that improves our lives and society.

I personally think of the researchers who are applying realistic simulation as the ‘Unsung Heroes’ of product development. They are the ones using realistic simulation technology in amazing and creative ways to solve challenging issues facing our society, not just reduce time and costs of product development.

Here are a few examples of innovative research highlighed by Dale that  illustrate how realistic simulation can help improve our society. 

Sliced vew of a Coconut (courtesty of Blekinge Institute of Technology)

Sliced vew of a Coconut (Blekinge Inst of Tech)

Go Coconuts: Next time you think of renewable and biodegradable materials, think coconut fibers. Check out how researchers at Blekinge Institute of Technology are studying the mechanical properties of coconut fiber using Abaqus FEA.

These researchers are investigating how coconut fiber can be used as reinforcement in biodegradadable fabric and plastic containers, which could mean less landfill waste and less reliance on hydrocarbons to make plastic. 

Red Blood Cell Analysis (National Univ. of Singapore)

Red Blood Cell Analysis (National Univ. of Singapore)

Blood Cell Research: Collaboration between researchers at MIT and theNational University of Singapore has resulted in deeper understanding of how disease, such as Malaria, affects red blood cells.

They are using Abaqus FEA to model and analyze the mechanical structure and deformation of red blood cells in response to disease progression. Such realistic simulation is enabling researchers to study the efficacy of treatments for diseases more efficiently.

Bad Vibrations: Vibration induced by trains or road traffic is a frequent problem for urban buildings and dwellings. Such vibrations can range from minor annoyance to significant building damage. A straightforward explanation on how vibrations occur and transfer to nearby structures can be found at Canada’s National Research Council’s website.

Vibration Barrier Analysis (Tokyo Inst of Tech)

Vibration Barrier Analysis (Tokyo Inst of Tech)

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology have used Abaqus FEA to evaluate how wave barriers can be improved to reduce vibration levels on nearby buildings. Check out their paper presented at the 2009 SIMULIA Customer Conference.

Now it’s your turn. What can you think of that could improve our lives or society? Better treatment for back pain? New technology for renewable energy? Better ways to dispose of hazardous waste?

Just do a simple search on Abaqus and ‘fill in your interest’. Here’s one to get you started; “Abaqus and Snail Armor”.

Let me know about the Unsung Heroes that you discover.

Have you met The Collaborative Tribe?

By Nicolas

The Collaborative Tribe is a series of 1 minute videos to communicate the values of Dassault Systèmes V6 PLM solutions mixed with some fun.  I’ve embedded the 1st episode below and invite you to go to, join the tribe, and watch other episodes.

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If you think about it, working in tribe mode could be very efficient for companies. A tribe is a community (what a trendy word!) that  shares common interests, a common language and rules. A tribe works as a  team for the interest of the whole community. Isn’t what companies could develop more and more within their teams around their projects?

Because I’m working on this campaign I’ve seen all of the episodes.  In all of them you’ll see the  six characters, communicating and collaborating in 3D, evolving their ideas thanks to their collective intelligence and testing them in “real life” conditions (sometimes unexpected events may occur!).

What do you think about The Collaborative Tribe?  What business messages do you see in the film?



Nicolas MNicolas Maritan works for Dassault Systèmes WW Marketing.

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