Capturing time

Capturing time

Preserving Wat Phra Si San Phet and other historical sites, in 3D and forever

Wat Phra Si San Phet. Photos courtesy of Seagate Thailand
Wat Phra Si San Phet. Photos courtesy of Seagate Thailand

From now people will be able to virtually experience the historic city of Ayutthaya anytime and anywhere, as Wat Phra Si San Phet has been digitally preserved thanks to CyArk, an international non-profit organisation that works in collaboration with Seagate Thailand and Unesco.

Wat Phra Si San Phet was selected by CyArk as part of their international programme for digital preservation through aerial surveys conducted with drones, terrestrial laser scanning known as Lidar, and photogrammetry exercises.

Earlier this month, digital scanning and archiving of the Unesco World Heritage site commenced. Data and images from the field exercise will be turned into photo-real 3D models for future generations of students, tourists and cultural-heritage enthusiasts. It will be launched next month.

The CyArk team uses a drone for capturing aerial data.

"We are at a pivotal point in history in which data-capture, -storage and -processing technology are all advanced enough to digitally preserve some of our world's most unique and historically significant locations," said Tim Bucher, senior vice-president, consumer solutions group at Seagate Technology.

Seagate first became a supporter of CyArk in 2015. By leveraging Seagate's storage and technologies, CyArk is empowered to securely store and protect the data then collect throughout a project, from capturing and processing to archiving. This is culturally important work that will enable all sorts of new possibilities for future generations.

Anthony Fassero, CyArk vice-president of capture and processing.

"We generate a lot of data for one week at Wat Phra Si San Phet. The data includes over 3TB of information. As we collect information, data is verified and backed up in the field using LaCie Rugged drives. We use enormous data processing with some 5TB," said Anthony Fassero, vice-president of capture and processing at CyArk.

He explained that data then is combined to create a photorealistic 3D model to be used in current conservation efforts, such as engineering drawings and detailed maps.

"People in other parts of the world are interested in the heritage sites here in Ayutthaya. Our job is to document it in 3D to help people understand the wonderful story of this place," said Fassero.

Bucher noted that preserving the sites in digital format enables people to learn more about important historical sites.

"The sites that are destroyed by man, by wars or whatever -- that is a big part of history and culture. And at Seagate, we are committed to helping the world capture and preserve all data," he said.

This is the start of digital preservation. Other agencies can see what they can do and make suggestions for digitally preserving other sites, telling the stories of the country's culture and geography.

Seagate supports CyArk not just in the field but also in the back office, with its data-storage solutions such as the LaCie Rugged USB-C, Rugged Raid, 2big and 12big, Seagate's Inno8, IronWolt 8TB, and other high-capacity data-storage products.

These devices ensure that the massive 3D-capture data files from the field are safely backed up and ready for processing to create detailed maps and architectural drawings that aid in the conservation of heritage sites. The stored data is also used to create exciting interactive virtual-reality experiences for tourists and academics alike, while helping to preserve the historical design and architecture of Ayutthaya's ancient temples and buildings that are facing the ravages of time.

The new technologies that Seagate and Cyark bring to Ayutthaya boost the preservation of Thailand's cultural heritage while promoting the historic city as a major tourist attraction for Thai and international visitors, said Prateep Phengtako, deputy-general, fine arts department, Ministry of Culture.

"Over time our national treasures are facing increasing dangers, either man-made or natural. We will increasingly depend on new technology and solutions to preserve our cherished historical heritage sites," he said.

The Historic City of Ayutthaya, about 85km north of Bangkok, flourished from the 14th to the 18th centuries as the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. During this time it was one of the world's largest urban areas and a centre of global diplomacy and commerce. The city was destroyed in 1767, leaving behind only stone monuments. Today the Unesco World Heritage site is protected under Thai law and is an extensive archaeological park, a major tourism attraction and an important centre of Thailand's heritage.

Since 2003, CyArk has amassed high-tech digital records of over 200 heritage sites in 40 countries in seven continents, including Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

"Wat Phra Si San Phet is the first product in Thailand that has seen CyArk working closely with donors like Seagate, Unesco and the fine-arts departments of universities to help promote recovery and research," said Fassero.

CyArk was founded in response to the increasing global threat to cultural-heritage sites from human destruction, looting and encroachment, and natural forces such as earthquakes, fire and floods.

"This important project aligns with our plans for the digital transformation of Thailand, leveraging technology for the betterment of our lives and society," said Pansak Siriruchatapong, vice-minister, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.

Digital Thailand envisions the country's success is taking full advantage of technology to support our economic and social development, and Seagate and CyArk has extended that vision.

The CyArk team uses a drone for capturing aerial data. Seagate Thailand

Anthony Fassero, CyArk vice-president of capture and processing. Seagate Thailand

Tim Busher and Anthony Fassero Seagate Thailand

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