Reality-Based Virtual Models in Cultural Heritage

  • Armin Gruen
Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


With digital globes like Google Earth or Microsoft Bing Maps the access to virtual, geo-referenced 3D data has become considerably easier and these sources of information are now frequently used by a worldwide audience. The underlying technologies in sensors and data processing have strongly influenced many disciplines and have led in many cases to completely novel as to how the work is conducted, with new possibilities for improved data acquisition, processing, analysis, representation, and dissemination. Archaeology and cultural heritage are definitely among those fields that have drawn many advantages from this situation. Advanced 3D modelling of landscapes, sites, single architectures, statues, findings, and artefacts have given the experts in the field and office new tools for better analysis and interpretation of processes, developments, and relations.

This article, after a brief review of the currently available sensor technology and an introduction to the photogrammetric data acquisition and processing procedures, will show how this technology works and what kind of products can be generated. We will touch upon the use of satellite, aerial, and terrestrial images, but also address laser scanning and structured light systems. The use of different imaging sensors in the case of the recording of large sites will be shown, presenting results from our Bamiyan, Afghanistan project. With our Tucume, Peru project we will demonstrate how we can go back in time using image-based techniques. With different examples of terrestrial applications we emphasize the wide variety of available sensors and applications.


Reality-based virtual model Cultural heritage 3D modelling Archaeology Scientific computing 



I would like to thank Drs. Devrim Akca, Henri Eisenbeiss, Fabio Remondino, Martin Sauerbier, and Zhang Li for their very valuable contributions to this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Conservation and Building ResearchETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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