The holmos and lebes digitally restored

28 Nov

The bronze holmos of the Regolini-Galassi tomb is a very elaborated and beautiful object that has suffered significant damage and corrosion.

bronze holmos

Bronze holmos from the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo: Vatican Museums)

To reveal the beauty of this object, we have unwrapped its decoration and used this image to create the line drawing of the engraved decoration.  Based upon this engraving and upon detailed study of the applied embossing, we have created a displacement map of the decoration of each of the parts of the holmos.

holmos unwrapped texture

Unwrapped decoration of the holmos cone (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

The displacement map is created in the same way as for the other objects: we simulate the engraving and embossing process in different layers of a Photoshop image, that is overlaid on the unwrapped texture.

Depth map holmos cone

Displacement map of the holmos cone (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

The displacement map is transformed into a normal map in Unity3D, giving a very nice real time rendering of the bronze object.

DROMOS8_new

Digitally restored holmos, placed in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

Digitally restored holmos, placed in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

DROMOS10_new

Digitally restored holmos, placed in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

The 6-headed lebes also suffered deformation and damage, so we performed digital restoration on this object as well.

6-headed lebes

Bronze six-headed lebes from the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo:Vatican Museums)

In this case, we derived the unwrapped texture from a 3D model that was made from dense stereo matching on a set of photographs taken with an object tent.

3D photography of the lebes

Photography of the lebes in an object tent for creating the 3D model (photo: Vatican Museums)

detail of lebes

Detail of the engraving of the lebes (photo: Vatican Museums)

We first identified the full engraving of the lebes on the unwrapped texture, completing the missing parts.  Then, we painted the embossed features in a similar way as the other objects, through observation of those features on the many photographs taken.

lebes_depth_map_comp

Displacement map superimposed upon the unwrapped texture of the lebes (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

The displacement map was imported in Unity3D and translated into a normal map for real time visualisation (see images below, compare with images above).  All digitally restored objects are integrated in the new version of the application.

digitally restored six-headed lebes

Digitally restored six-headed lebes (image:CNR-ITABC)

Digitally restored six-headed lebes

Digitally restored six-headed lebes (image:CNR-ITABC)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is being partially funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

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The situla restored digitally

27 Nov

One of the outstanding silver objects from the Regolini-Galassi tomb  is a situla, a ritual bucket to contain holy water or milk.  The situla is only preserved partially and consisted of a wooden cilindrical bucket decorated with a silver cover showing three animals and palmettes, as the symbol of life.

Silver situla

Silver and wood situla of the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo: Vatican Museums)

The silver decoration was found by the excavators in a fragmented state and recovered only partially.  Presumably, the situla was suspended in the triangular window opening (see image below) and when the situla fell down, it broke and many fragments that fell on the ground were destroyed by corrosion.

situla suspended in triangular window

Situla suspended in the triangular window of the tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

We digitised the situla by turntable photography (so that the cylinder could be unwrapped as one image) and closeup photography, so that the hinge and the chain could be modelled in 3D by hand.  The main goal of unwrapping the cylindrical silver sheet was to digitally restore it.  The physical restoration has not been documented and dates back probably to the 19th century.

photographing the situla

Photographing the situla on a turntable at the Museo Etrusco Gregoriano (photo: CNR-ITABC)

The resulting photographs were assembled into one image, depicting the cylindrical surface of the situla.  As can be seen from the images below, the silver sheet has also been embossed and engraved.  The digital restoration focused on understanding the production process and improving the physical restoration, based upon that knowledge, as the parts that have been added do no contain any engraving or embossing.  It appeared also that a  few small parts of the original silver are missing (see for example the wing of the griffin below).

unwrapped decoration of situla

Unwrapped decoration of the situla (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

detail of situla decoration

Detail of the restored situla decoration, showing a griffin (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

The digital restoration was implemented through the creation of a displacement map, which is the most efficient technique to deal with embossed and engraved objects (see also our blog post on the digital restoration of a patera).  In Photoshop, we created extra layers on top of the unwrapped situla decoration image, one layer for the engraving, one layer for the embossing.  Additional layers have been introduced to simulate the deformation of the metal when engraving. We also created a transparency map to indicate the form of the cutouts in the silver sheet.

restored depth map

Digitally restored displacement map of the situla (by Visual Dimension bvba)

Study of the unwrapped image showed that the palmettes were made by hammering the shape with a tool in the form of the palmette.  This production process was simulated in Photoshop.  The resulting transparency and displacement maps are used in the interactive real time visualisation system that has been implemented by CNR-ITABC (see image below).

digitally restored situla

The digitally restored situla in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is being partially funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

New version of the Regolini-Galassi tomb visualisation

26 Nov

After quite a long break, we’re back to continue to update this blog.  CNR-ITABC in Rome has been working hard on creating a new version that has been demonstrated at the Italian Science Festival in Genua (Oct 25 – Nov 4, 2012) and at the ArcheoVirtual exhibition that took place in the context of the Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico in Paestum, Italy (Nov 15-18, 2012).

New version of Regolini-Galassi tomb 3D application

New version of Regolini-Galassi tomb 3D application (image: CNR-ITABC)

At the Science Festival,  many children could use the application, which was hosted and evaluated by the V-MusT European network.  The V-MusT stand had about 4000 visitors.

Etruscanning3D at Genova

Etruscanning3D at Science Festival in Genova

At ArcheoVirtual, where a large number of new virtual museum applications where demonstrated, the Etruscanning3D application was also evaluated by the V-MusT team.  The visitors were very positive about the new application.

Etruscanning3D at ArcheoVirtual

Etruscanning3D at ArcheoVirtual 2012

At ArcheoVirtual, Etruscanning3D received the Award for best application in the category “New Interaction” and was the virtual museum that was appreciated the most by the visitors of the exhibition.

ArcheoVirtual Award ceremony

Etruscanning 3D receives the “New Interaction Award” at ArcheoVirtual 2012

The new version not only contains many more digitally restored objects, but allows also to navigate freely through the tomb and to select objects.  You will read more about the digital restoration of the objects in the next posts of this blog.

restored holmos

The restored holmos at the entrance of the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image:CNR-ITABC)

restored shields

The restored bronze shields in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image:CNR-ITABC)

main chamber

The main burial chamber (image: CNR-ITABC)

In April 2013, the new version of the Etruscanning3D application will be installed permanently in the Vatican Museums.

An observation on disc fibulae

5 Apr

In a previous post, we outlined some ideas on the meaning of the disc fibula of the Regolini-Galassi tomb and of related disc fibulae as a symbol of rebirth, and we proposed a possible origin of that symbol in the Middle East.  In a recent visit to the archaeological museum of Bologna, we found only one similar disc fibula although there are hundreds of fibulae on display in this museum. The simularity of this fibula is only superficial as it has the disc and the bow, but does miss the metal piece (or an attachment point) that symbolises the river.  Also, this fibula is probably Celtic, not Etruscan.

Disc fibula Bologna

The only disc fibula in the archaeological museum of Bologna

We also observed that in this museum nearly no golden or silver objects are present.  This looks like an additional support for the proposed idea. As the Bologna area did not have the gold and silver mines that Etruria had, there must have been less contact from this area with the Middle East, hence less influence by those cultures.  As we proposed that disc fibulae, such as the one in the Regolini-Galassi tomb, symbolise rebirth and as this concept was imported from the Middle East, it sounds logical that no such disc fibulae seem to have been found in the Bologna area.  Also the influence of Etruria in this region happens in the 6th century BC, later than the orientalising period in the 8th and 7th century where we need to situate the use of these special disc fibulae.  Again, all this needs to be proved by further research by specialists of Etruscan culture.

The new museum Palazzo Pepoli in Bologna, that opened on January 28, 2012 tells the story of the city of Bologna, from a Villanovan settlement to the city of today.  The museum contains a nice stereo 3D movie, made by CINECA, that features an Etruscan character called Apa, who was modelled on a flute player, depicted on a bronze situla from Certosa in the archaeological museum of Bologna.

Certosa situla in Bologna

Admiring the Certosa situla in the archaeological museum in Bologna

Detail of Certosa situla

Detail of the Certosa situla, showing the Apa character as flute player

Apa in archaeological museum of Bologna

Apa in the archaeological museum of Bologna

2011 in review

21 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Disc Fibula revisited

11 Dec

The ongoing exhibition Etruscans at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam and the National Museum for Antiquities in Leiden brings together many splendid Etruscan objects from several Italian museums.  Through the Etruscanning VR application, many more objects are shown in a digital way.  One of the most splendid objects that is shown in this VR application is a large golden disc fibula, that is shown on the body of the deceased princess that was buried in the Regolini-Galassi tomb.

disc fibula

Golden disc fibula from the Regolini-Galassi tomb, dated 675-650 BC (photo: Vatican Museums)

Only a few similar objects are known (see two images below).  Maurizio Sannibale, the curator of the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, where this large disc fibula resides, considers this object as a symbol of the transition from life (the top disc) to the afterlife (the bottom curved element) over the rivers (the middle bars) that separate the world and the underworld.

disc fibula München

Disc fibula from Ponte Sodo (Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2331, München)

In this double exhibition in Amsterdam and Leiden, several objects are shown from the Etruscan collection of the Allard Pierson museum itself.  Three of them are nice but small disc fibulae in bronze, that resemble another small disc fibula in gold in the British Museum, probably coming from Etruria.

disc fibula British Museum

Etruscan disc fibula in gold, dated 825-775 BC (photo: British Museum)

disc fibula British Museum

Detail Etruscan disc fibula, dated 825-775 BC (photo: British Museum)

However, these disc fibulae from the Allard Pierson Museum reveal an important secret.  As can be seen on the photograph below, all three fibulae are very similar in shape, structure and size to the one in British Museum.

disc fibulae APM

Three Etruscan disc fibulae from the Allard Pierson Museum (photo: Christie Ray)

Only the fibula on the left (see image above) has a middle part that depicts the river and has a slightly different bow.  All three fibulae carry the same decoration (see images below) as the one in British Museum: the  squares (maybe sun crosses) or swastikas on the top disc, the two or three bands that surround the top disc and seem to depict rivers through zigzag lines, the zigzag lines on the middle horizontal bar, probably depicing water and the zigzag lines on the bottom bow part.  When we compare these four small disc fibulae with the two bigger ones that are depicted above, we see a striking analogy of the same symbols that appear on the same parts with very similar shapes.  If we assume that the top disc depicts the world, this reveals the known depiction of the world surrounded by water on all sides, which is the first world model from the Bronze Age .

disc fibula APM

Close-up view of left disc fibula (photo: Christie Ray)

disc fibula APM

Close-up view of middle disc fibula (photo: Allard Pierson Museum)

disc fibula APM - detail

Detail of middle disc fibula with swastikas (photo: Allard Pierson Museum)

Closer inspection also reveals that the middle and the right fibula had also a horizontal bar attached on the small bow that protrudes just below the disc (see image above). In other words, we can assume quite safely that all fibulae shown here had a horizontal bar. This makes the similarity even more striking. Note the horizontal bar probably detached easily as the surface of the small bow, on which it was soldered, was very small, hence proving that such fibulae were used for funeral purposes only.

Based on this knowledge, we can identify many more disc fibulae that have the same characteristics: the disc (world) surrounded by sets of lines (water, rivers) and carrying depictions of life or swastikas, the small bow, to which the horizontal bar (river) was attached (but which is easily lost) and the bow, on which zigzag lines seem to depict water. Below, we show one from British Museum, which is older than the other fibulae shown above.

disc fibula British Museum

Disc fibula, dated 1000-880 BC, from Italy (photo: British Museum)

disc fibula British Museum

Disc fibula, dated 1000-880 BC, from Italy (photo: British Museum)

Many more fibulae can be identified if we allow a slightly wider variety of depictions of the same symbols. In the one below, from British Museum, the disc fibula below symbolises the waters around the “world” through one single ripple, very similar to the Ponte Sodo fibula shown above, while the water on the bow is symbolised through discs.

disc fibula British Museum

Disc fibula, dated 800-700BC, from Italy (photo: British Museum)

disc fibula British Museum

Disc fibula, dated 800-700BC, from Italy (photo: British Museum)

So, what has this to do with the virtual reconstruction of the Regolini-Galassi tomb?  We have proposed two hypotheses concerning the placement of the fibula on the body of the deceased: or it is placed on top of the face, or it is placed on the abdomen.

From the analysis above, we can conclude that the Regolini-Galassi disc fibula is not a decorative object, adorning the body of the deceased, but relates to an old symbol that seems to carry a consistent message of transition to afterlife, as the decoration and shape of these fibulae remain nearly identical over several centuries.

When trying to interpret this particular shape and decoration, we can make the link to the belief of the Etruscans that dying was being reborn.  We could interpret the bow of these fibulae as the expanded abdomen or “baby bump” of women, the water symbol on the bow as depicting the water that surrounds the fetus.  As each of the three parts of the fibulae carries the symbol of water, they probably also stress that water is the symbol of life, from birth to death.

In this sense, these fibulae probably can be compared to an Iron age bronze fibula from a grave in Lorestan, Iran, on which a woman is giving birth.

Lorestan fibula Louvre

Lorestan fibula, Iran, dated 1500-700 BC (photo: Louvre museum, Paris)

To conclude, we can state that the Regolini-Galassi disc fibula has a much higher chance of being positioned on the abdomen than being positioned on the face, not only because of size of the object but especially because of the symbolism of the object.

This blog is part of the Etruscanning project, that is being funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

The Etruscanning application at ArcheoVirtual

23 Nov

Every year, the Virtual Heritage Lab at CNR-ITABC organises the ArcheoVirtual exhibition at the Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico and shows the best applications in archaeological visualisation.  This year, the V-MusT.net Network of Excellence, coordinated by CNR-ITABC, used the venue to organise two workshops on museum technology plus several other meetings.

ArcheoVirtual

ArcheoVirtual organiser and V-MusT coordinator Sofia Pescarin (right) with Mohamed Farouk (left) and Karim Omar (middle) of CultNat, Egypt, at the ArcheoVirtual exhibition (photo: Selma Rizvic)

One of the ArcheoVirtual stands that attracted the most interest was Etruscanning with the VR visualisation of the Etruscan Regolini-Galassi tomb. The application on display was the improved, second version in Italian.  We made a small video on how this second version of the VR application on the Regolini-Galassi tomb looks like.

Etruscanning at ArcheoVirtual

The Etruscanning application at ArcheoVirtual (photo: Selma Rizvic)

Work continues to improve the digital museum objects through digital restoration and image based digitisation.  The Dutch version of this improved application will be installed soon in Amsterdam and Leiden.

This blog is part of the Etruscanning project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.