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Reconstructing Ancient Egyptian Tombs - Hany Farid

Reconstructing Ancient Egyptian Tombs - Hany Farid

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Published by: illumin7 on Dec 05, 2009
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Reconstructing Ancient Egyptian Tombs
Hany Farid
Dartmouth College, Hanover NH, 03755, USA
From the pyramids of Giza to the tombs of Thebes (modern Luxor),ancient Egypt’s glorious history has produced remarkable architecture. Sadly, thenearly four million yearly tourists have taken a heavy toll on many of these an-cient structures. Of particular concern are many of the tombs located opposite toLuxor on the western bank of the Nile. Digital reconstruction of these tombs hasthe potential to help document and preserve these important historical structures.Photographing and reconstruction of these tombs poses new and unique problemsthat this paper begins to address. Techniques for removing image distortions, recov-ering 3-D shape, and correcting for lighting imbalances are discussed. A completereconstruction of the tomb of Sennedjem is shown.
1 Introduction
Approximately 5,000 years ago, Narmer unified Upper and Lower Egyptcreating what is arguably one of the greatest civilizations of all time. Fromthe pyramids of Giza to the tombs of Thebes, Egypt’s glorious history isenjoyed by nearly four million tourists each year. While the tourism tradebolsters Egypt’s economy, it has taken a heavy toll on many of its ancientmonuments. Of particular concern are many of the Theban tombs on thewestern bank of the Nile, opposite modern Luxor. The delicate and vibrantcolors found in the tomb paintings have survived for many millennia, buthave recently seen significant deterioration due in part to the large numberof visitors. Digital reconstruction of these tombs has the potential to helpdocument and preserve these important historical structures while increas-ing general knowledge and interest (e.g.,virtual museums). Reconstruction of these structures from photographs poses new and unique problems that thispaper begins to address.We have concentrated our initial efforts on the smaller tombs of artisansin Deir el Medina in western Thebes. These were the people who workedon the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, located about a kilometeraway. In 1886 when what is now designated tomb number 1 was discoveredby Maspero [6] in the Deir el Medina area, it proved to be one of thoserare occasions because it was still intact having escaped being plundered inantiquity, as was the fate of most royal and private tombs. Tomb number 1
6211 Sudikoff Laboratory, Department of Computer Science, DartmouthCollege, Hanover, NH 03755.
2 H. Farid
belonged to Sennedjem, who shared his “house of eternity” with his wife Iy-nefer, their children, and grandchildren where they have remained togetherin this tiny space, undisturbed for over three millennia.A wireframe rendering of Sennedjem’s burial chamber
is depicted inFig. 1. Shown in Fig. 2 are a pair of photographs taken from each end of thechamber. The burial chamber, measuring 5.12 m by 2.61 m with its vaultedceiling of 2.40 m, is completely decorated. Nearly any photograph of thissmallroom willcontain significant dis-
Sennedjem’s burial chamber.
tortions due to the curved ceiling, theinherent effects of perspective projec-tion, and the wide-angle lens requiredto obtain a reasonable field of view.For example, shown in Fig. 3 (top)are a pair of photographs taken fromneighboring panels on the curved ceil-ing. Given the small size of this room,these distortions are impossible to avoid. In the presence of these distortions,it is equally impossible to create a single large-scale seamless mosaic. This pa-per first describes an image-based technique for removing these distortions.Combined with a simple technique for recovering the 3-D shape, we thenconstruct fully decorated virtual tombs. While not employed in the resultspresented here, we also propose a technique for automatically correcting forthe lighting imbalances that are typical of flash photographs. We hope toincorporate this technique in future reconstructions.
2 Image Distortions
Consider again the pair of images in the top row of Fig. 3. These images wereclearly intended to be rectangular in shape. However due to the curved ceilingthese images contain significant distortions. Note that these panels neighboreach other on the chamber ceiling. That is, the right-most hieroglyph stripin the left image is the same as the left-most strip in the right image. Ourgoal is to seamlessly join these images, thus requiring the removal of thesedistortions. If we assume that the vertical and horizontal hieroglyph stripsshould be parallel, then these strips provide a convenient landmark for es-timating the distortions. Shown in Fig. 3 (top) are 30 points evenly spacedalong the outer portion of the panel. These points are determined in a twostep process. First, a small number of points (more than four) are manuallyselected anywhere along a horizontal/vertical portion of the hieroglyph stripthat bounds the panel, making sure to choose the two points at either endof the strip. A fourth-order polynomial curve is then fit to these points, fromwhich the equally spaced points are generated. This process is repeated for
Sennedjem’s entire tomb consists of several rooms and passageways. The burialchamber is the final room in which Sennedjem was laid to rest.
Reconstructing Ancient Egyptian Tombs 3
The burial chamber of Sennedjem as viewed from each end.

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