Kakadu’s Aboriginal art captured for posterity

By on 10 September, 2013


As part of the CyArk 500 challenge, ancient Aboriginal rock art in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory has been 3D-scanned for future preservation.

The CyArk 500 challenge aims to digitally detail 500 cultural heritage sites across the world within the next 5 years, preserving them against their inevitable degradation due to war, terrorism, arson, urban sprawl, climate change, earthquakes, floods, and other threats.

The rock art sites of Kakadu are recognised internationally for their cultural value, and are one of the reasons that Kakadu is inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (Unesco) list of World Heritage properties. The purpose of this project was to preserve Australian cultural and heritage listed artefacts in a reproducible and accurate 3D format.

Maptek I-Site Studio software was used to create a 3D reproduction of the historical Aboriginal rock art.

Elizabeth Lee, Vice President, CyArk says, ‘We are thrilled to include the data for Kakadu in our archive. It is an incredible site and a fantastic example of Australia’s rich aboriginal history. We are grateful for Maptek donating time and data for this wonderful project.’

Three locations were scanned during the one-day visit with 17 areas of art captured, each containing multiple pieces.

The detailed laser scan data contained up to 74 million points. This data was modelled to create an accurate 3D representation of the environment. High definition digital photographs were captured simultaneously to record the artwork.

The photo registration tools in I-Site Studio allow photographs from digital cameras and other sources to be projected in any orientation onto a surface. Laser intensity data from the infrared signals was used to match points in photos with points in the 3D scene. This took a 2D photo and turned it into a 3D scene.

The final results proved that the method is ideally suited for recording and reconstructing rock art.

You can learn more about the CyArk 500 project, including the CyArk 500 conference to be held in London in October, at http://archive.cyark.org/500/.

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