Qasr Amra was built during the Umayyad Caliphate, which managed to unify a vast empire that spread from India to Spain. These desert castles were richly decorated with stuccoes, frescoes, mosaics, high reliefs and inlays. Qasr Amra’s famous wall paintings, for instance, cover an area of almost 380 square meters.
With the use of laser scanners and digital photogrammetry, we achieved a three-dimensional model of the rooms and decorations of the Castle, thus generating more than 5,000 high-resolution photographs and over 100 panoramic views.
ARCHEOGRAPHUM is a tool that stores and shares the documentation produced and archived according to the most advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems, based on a participatory model and focused on data sharing.
To achieve an accurate and complete digital representation, we performed the 3D survey of the interiors and exteriors of Qasr Amra Castle by integrating different techniques.
Thanks to the laser scanner, which offers accurate three-dimension measurements of the surface of the space, we obtained topographic and architectural surveys in 3D of all the different parts of the monument.
Photogrammetry procures highly detailed pictures that are bigger than a 1:1 scale, with a level of magnification that the human eye could never perceive. With these macro photographs, we could bring back colors, tones, details and sharpness that otherwise could not be achieved.
Using specific software applied to the results, we accomplished a 3D model of the castle in its original shapes, sizes and colors, which also enabled the function of measuring distances between different points.
We could also verify the conditions of the structure and the restoration techniques that had been applied. In some cases, we could even restore the virtual stratigraphy of the pictorial decorations.
This project was developed in several stages by documenting step by step the work done by the restorers and the state of the castle before and after its restoration. The wall paintings had been covered with soot, dust and chemicals for decades, but the latest works revealed vibrant colors and yet unknown iconographic details, such as the Kufic Arabic inscription on the window on the south wall.
After digitalizing the heritage of Qasr Amra, we envisioned a tool that could manage the vast amount of data that we had gathered, where one could consult the updated material and, at the same time, add new information through the creation of new polygons. Also, we wanted to propose a useful instrument that allowed offshoring the fieldwork to work on it remotely.
ARCHEOGRAPHUM is a precise working tool for heritage research, documentation and protection based on new technologies, combining the scientific material of the monument’s database with the material obtained during the digitalization process.
All data and metadata are indexed and georeferenced, meaning that everything is linked to specific coordinates of the monument (through FLAGs) and associated with keywords (through TAGs) that help the search and information filtering. For this, we built ad hoc a specific lexicon and semantic structure relating all the contents loaded in the system.
Users are managed hierarchically with different access levels to the tools and information available. The graphic interface is simple and intuitive: once logged in, it unfolds the floorplan of the castle, where the user can select which area wants to consult or work.
There is a dropdown menu where the user can browse the frescoes and explore the monument virtually. The user also gets access to related information and can tag contents, attach files, or measure segments and polygons.
The project was selected by the HBIM (Smart Heritage Building Performance Measurement for Sustainability), which studies methods for the intelligent measurement of performance in historic buildings, such as the impact on their health and sustainability after reconstruction.
Working in BIM mode allows you to obtain a constantly updated overview of the progress of the work: thanks to the sharing of the single database, each variant developed by the work teams can be automatically shared by all the software tools.