As a means to reconstruct lost histories and give new meanings to heritage, digital technology has become a unique point of encounter between past and present. Over the last few years, digitisation of European cultural heritage has been a dominant trend that yielded a number of projects enabling new interpretations of history, arts and culture. The year 2016 alone has seen the launches of various new initiatives that explore the use of digital technologies in the field, while 3D printing and remodelling reached new heights to provide more sophisticated and cost-effective ways to reconstruct historic objects and places.
In June this year, a 3D modelling project that draw attention of heritage professionals was introduced at European Development Days that took place in Brussels. The forum was an opportunity for researchers from Ghent University’s Department of Geography to present their idea for recovering ancient objects and preserving heritage for future generations using 3D remodelling. The project so far reconstructed several artefacts including a monolith dating from AD 726, 16th century Mercator globe and the main temple of the Maya archeological site in Campeche, Mexico.
Another significant 3D modelling initiative with the focus on cultural heritage preservation is Rekrei, formally known as Project Mosul. Founded in March 2015 by The Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage (ITN-DCH) and the organisation Rekrei, the project uses 3D remodelling to rebuild the world’s heritage. European sites that were reconstructed by Rekrei include King Sebastian Statue in Lisbon, Chapel of Laennec hospital and Saint Jacques Church in France and Mappin and Webb building at bank in London.
3D printing, on the other hand, offers a faster and affordable way to rebuild heritage sites and artefacts. One of the first significant projects in Europe was the project by the Heritage Lab that was applied to side chapels of the Church “Castello di San Martino dall’Argine,” Italy.
In addition to this, many individual artists are using 3D printing to bring lost artefacts back to life. Exploring this new form of artistic expression, they are also enabling the entire field of cultural heritage to evolve and offer new insights into our past. Combined with creative initiatives and his knowledgeable individuals, this power of new technologies promises continuous innovation and long-term solutions to preserve heritage for future generations.