A pinboard by
Rebecca Napolitano

PhD Student, Princeton University


Numerical simulations and machine learning to create digital reconstructions of ancient buildings

Heritage structures and sites, such as sacred buildings, bridges, and monuments, and the courtyards, complexes, and archaeological sites that surround them, constitute an important part of cultural legacy. Regardless of whether they are still standing, in or out of function, partially or completely collapsed, heritage structures represent important milestones in human cultural and engineering achievements, and in the scientific, political, economic, and artistic evolutions that left an everlasting impact on societies. However, some heritage structures and sites have been partially or destroyed over time, and while their full appearance and function cease to exist, their heritage does not; hence, there is a need for their methodical and structurally sound reconstruction, which can only be possible through a multidisciplinary approach. The objective of this collaborative research is to create a novel methodology for analysis and comprehensive digital reconstruction of heritage structures and sites. 3D models of archaeological sites are useful for humanistic research since they can aid humanists in developing new understandings about the motility of a space which can lead to new insights into how sites were occupied and functioned. Additionally, the process of making the 3D model can lead to new understandings of how and why it was built at a certain time, with certain materials, and in a certain way. The project is potentially transformative, as the ease of use and accessibility of the proposed integrative technology will provide new tools for analysis of heritage structures and sites, and enable new research questions to be asked and explored. The resulting methodology will catalyze digital conservation of structures and sites of cultural heritage, which in turn will also facilitate broader access, understanding, and appreciation of these sites, by academics, but also by various policy makers and general public. This research will transcend archaeology and civil engineering working independently to breathe new, digital life into sites and structures of historical and cultural significance by carrying their influence beyond the confines of an archaeological site or museum and into the global consciousness.