First images of laser scan of Chinese tombs
10 December 2012
The first laser scanned images of China’s Eastern Qing Tombs captured by a team
of experts from Scotland have been revealed.
The historic site has been digitally captured using cutting-edge technology as part
of the Scottish Ten project – a joint initiative by Historic Scotland, Glasgow School of Art’s Digital
Design Studio and international non-profit organisation CyArk.
The Eastern Qing Tombs - in use from 1666 to 1911 - are the final resting place
of some of China's best known emperors. The Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties were both
designated as a World Heritage Site in 2000 - UNESCO describing it as a "masterpiece of human creative
The Scottish Ten team focused on the site's most elaborate tomb, belonging to Xiao
Ling, which was the first to be completed and exerted a profound influence on those that followed, and
also recorded the Jingling Tomb of Emperor Kangxi, widely regarded as the greatest emperor of the Qing
The images have been released just days after a new strategy to strengthen Scotland’s
relationship with China was published by the Scottish Government.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:
“It is fascinating to see these first images from the laser scanning of the Eastern
Qing Tombs. They clearly demonstrate the intricate workmanship that went into creating this incredible
complex of buildings.
“The Scottish Ten team has been in Beijing since the beginning of the month working
with our partners from the Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the Cultural Relics
Department at the Eastern Qing Tombs. The scale of the site is an entirely new challenge for our specialists
in conservation and digital heritage preservation from Historic Scotland, our experts in 3d visualisation
from Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio and our international partner, CyArk.
“The Scottish Ten will create 3D digital models of our five Scottish World Heritage
Sites and five international sites. On my recent visit to India I was able to hand over the resulting
scanned images, digital survey information and virtual animations from the team’s work on the Rani ki
Vav stepwell in Gujarat that will be used to help conserve and promote the site.
“As well as the technical data and imagery that is being produced, the ongoing
international partnerships we are building give us new opportunities to deepen Scotland’s cultural ties
with China, one of the key aims of our new China Strategy. It will also make a real difference to globally
important heritage sites and enhance Scotland’s international reputation for leading expertise in the
fields of conservation and digital technologies.”
Mr. Zhang Heqing, Deputy Inspector and Head of Division of Foreign Affairs of State
Administration of Cultural Heritage, said:
“The digital preservation project of East Qing Tombs is one of the most important
projects between the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China and the Scottish government,
which not only promotes the technical exchange and cooperation between China and Scotland in the preservation
of cultural heritage, deepens the friendship between them, but also arouses the awareness of the public
involvement in the preservation of cultural heritage.
“We hope this project could further strengthen the exchange and cooperation between
China and Scotland in the field of cultural heritage, and showcase the Chinese cultural heritage to
the world in a better way.”
The Tombs now join the portfolio of Scottish Ten sites being digitally scanned to
create detailed three-dimensional records for future generations, which can be used to manage the sites,
and provide source material for remote access and educational programmes.
In December last year Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond met with Mr. Gu Yucai,
Vice Director-General of China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage, and Ms. Lu Qiong, Vice Director
of the Department of the Protection of Monuments and Sites to announce the Eastern Qing Tombs would
be the third international site in the Scottish Ten project.
The advanced laser technology employed on the Scottish Ten has already captured
sites as varied as St Kilda and Neolithic Orkney in Scotland, Rani Ki Vav in India and Mount Rushmore
in the United States.
After completing four weeks of scanning the team have returned to Scotland
Notes to editor
The scanning system uses a combination of lasers and 360 degree photography to create
a detailed model which is then analysed and processed at Glasgow School of Art's Digital Design Studio
and Historic Scotland. The technology can also reveal construction methods and help decipher inscriptions
and creates records of unparalleled accuracy, and often provides insights not revealed by more conventional
methods of survey.
Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with
safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers
and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter @welovehistory and Facebook www.facebook.com/visithistoricscotland
The Scottish Government is leading a sustained programme of engagement with China
for the mutual benefit of both nations through its China Strategy www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications
The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is internationally recognised as one of Europe's
foremost higher education institutions for creative education and research in fine art, design and architecture.
The Digital Design Studio (DDS) is a world leading research and postgraduate centre of the GSA specialising
in 3D digital visualisation and interaction technologies,. It combines academic, research and commercial
activities. The experts at the Digital Design Studio are currently creating the 3D scans for the widely
admired Scottish Ten as a partner in the CDDV. Other areas of DDS research include ground-breaking medical
visualization, Marine Visualization and Auralisation and sound. www.gsa.ac.uk/research/research-centres/digital-design-studio
CyArk is a non-profit entity whose mission is to digitally preserve cultural heritage
sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital
modelling, and other state-of-the-art technologies. For more information visit www.cyark.org
The Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation, a partnership between Historic
Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio, was created by the Scottish Government
to carry out the Scottish Ten project. This ambitious 5-year project will digitally record the five
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland and five international sites.
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