Siberian Federal University: SibFU students and the Hermitage create 3D models of exhibits

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Within the internship, SibFU students contributed to digitalization and creation of 3D models of the exhibits from the State Hermitage Museum. This project is intended to facilitate the study of ancient artifacts in more detail and from anywhere in the world. The portal of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education made a publication about the internship.

As part of their internship, SibFU students conducted photogrammetry of objects of scientific interest and of historical and cultural significance. Photogrammetry means careful and comprehensive photographing of exhibits for further creation of a virtual copy.

Nikita Pikov, head of the internship, senior lecturer at the Department of Information Technologies in Creative and Cultural Industries of SibFU, explained that the digitization of artifacts is carried out within the framework of the scientific cooperation agreement between the Hermitage and SibFU: “We have been cooperating with the Hermitage for almost ten years and hope to continue this work in the future. Students prepare course papers and theses based on the collected materials and proven techniques, and Hermitage experts are engaged in the study of digital copies of objects. There is a strong scientific school of virtual archaeology in St. Petersburg, and the results of joint work are crucially important to us”.

Most of the museum items were in the State Hermitage Museum’s Storehouse in Staraya Derevnya. The students had been waiting for a meeting with this most secure modern museum complex for two whole years, as during the pandemic, the access was restricted.

The students conducted photogrammetry of deer stones — archaeological monuments that have become a symbol of the ancient culture of Central Asia. For one object, about a hundred high-quality images were taken, after which there was a long computer processing.

“Photogrammetry is a rather complicated procedure, since we need to take pictures from all sides in order to fix the details and features of the object, and this is quite challenging. For example, some of the artifacts we had worked with were hanging on the wall, and in order to capture all details, it was necessary to select different angles. I am glad that the work we have done is really needed by society both from a scientific and cultural point of view. This is our small contribution to the preservation of Russian culture”, shared her impressions Ekaterina Leskova, a student of the SibFU School for the Humanities.

According to student Nikita Vorotnikov, virtual copies created as part of the internship will help in the subsequent professional research of artifacts: “The digital model makes it possible for scientists from anywhere in the world to conduct research in a convenient way without commuting. The heritage of different cultures is collected in St. Petersburg, which means that specialists from other countries can be interested in these objects. It’s great that within the framework of educational practical training we can learn to solve such complex problems and adopt the experience of professionals, that we have access to artifacts and cultural experience that the Hermitage keeps”.

Daria Guk, senior researcher at the Department of Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia of the State Hermitage Museum also noted that today studying a 3D model, oddly enough, may be more effective than working with an original subject: “Now there are technologies that make it possible to highlight the image in different ways, to detect traces of almost erased inscriptions on the surface. Thus, SibFU students do a fairly responsible job”.

In addition to deer stones from the Sayano-Altai territory and architectural fragments from the Sarkel fortress, third-year students were invited to try their hand at shooting stone crosses from the Izhora Plateau, first in St. Petersburg, then in Izborsk, where an archaeological expedition led by Victoria Panchenko, a researcher at the State Hermitage Museum, worked. According to her, digitization of monuments that are located in inaccessible places — these include both remote rural areas with impassable roads and closed museum collections — is needed primarily for the study of these subjects by specialists. Having received a good 3D image, scientists can examine details that they did not pay attention to in the field, while at home at the computer, and there is no need to travel hundreds of kilometers again.

“Of course, we make drawings of monuments, but we know from experience that such drawings can convey an image inaccurately or even with distortions. In addition, our field experience shows that many monuments really disappear, and we are left with only their images”, — explained Viktoria Panchenko, researcher at the Hermitage, — “Students who come to St. Petersburg for their internship, get the opportunity to touch the ancient layers of Russian history, see chronicled cities, medieval fortresses and, no less important, visit the halls of the Hermitage, which simply presents an encyclopedia of world culture”.

Within the internship, SibFU students contributed to digitalization and creation of 3D models of the exhibits from the State Hermitage Museum. This project is intended to facilitate the study of ancient artifacts in more detail and from anywhere in the world. The portal of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education made a publication about the internship.

As part of their internship, SibFU students conducted photogrammetry of objects of scientific interest and of historical and cultural significance. Photogrammetry means careful and comprehensive photographing of exhibits for further creation of a virtual copy.

Nikita Pikov, head of the internship, senior lecturer at the Department of Information Technologies in Creative and Cultural Industries of SibFU, explained that the digitization of artifacts is carried out within the framework of the scientific cooperation agreement between the Hermitage and SibFU: “We have been cooperating with the Hermitage for almost ten years and hope to continue this work in the future. Students prepare course papers and theses based on the collected materials and proven techniques, and Hermitage experts are engaged in the study of digital copies of objects. There is a strong scientific school of virtual archaeology in St. Petersburg, and the results of joint work are crucially important to us”.

Most of the museum items were in the State Hermitage Museum’s Storehouse in Staraya Derevnya. The students had been waiting for a meeting with this most secure modern museum complex for two whole years, as during the pandemic, the access was restricted.

The students conducted photogrammetry of deer stones — archaeological monuments that have become a symbol of the ancient culture of Central Asia. For one object, about a hundred high-quality images were taken, after which there was a long computer processing.

“Photogrammetry is a rather complicated procedure, since we need to take pictures from all sides in order to fix the details and features of the object, and this is quite challenging. For example, some of the artifacts we had worked with were hanging on the wall, and in order to capture all details, it was necessary to select different angles. I am glad that the work we have done is really needed by society both from a scientific and cultural point of view. This is our small contribution to the preservation of Russian culture”, shared her impressions Ekaterina Leskova, a student of the SibFU School for the Humanities.

According to student Nikita Vorotnikov, virtual copies created as part of the internship will help in the subsequent professional research of artifacts: “The digital model makes it possible for scientists from anywhere in the world to conduct research in a convenient way without commuting. The heritage of different cultures is collected in St. Petersburg, which means that specialists from other countries can be interested in these objects. It’s great that within the framework of educational practical training we can learn to solve such complex problems and adopt the experience of professionals, that we have access to artifacts and cultural experience that the Hermitage keeps”.

Daria Guk, senior researcher at the Department of Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia of the State Hermitage Museum also noted that today studying a 3D model, oddly enough, may be more effective than working with an original subject: “Now there are technologies that make it possible to highlight the image in different ways, to detect traces of almost erased inscriptions on the surface. Thus, SibFU students do a fairly responsible job”.

In addition to deer stones from the Sayano-Altai territory and architectural fragments from the Sarkel fortress, third-year students were invited to try their hand at shooting stone crosses from the Izhora Plateau, first in St. Petersburg, then in Izborsk, where an archaeological expedition led by Victoria Panchenko, a researcher at the State Hermitage Museum, worked. According to her, digitization of monuments that are located in inaccessible places — these include both remote rural areas with impassable roads and closed museum collections — is needed primarily for the study of these subjects by specialists. Having received a good 3D image, scientists can examine details that they did not pay attention to in the field, while at home at the computer, and there is no need to travel hundreds of kilometers again.

“Of course, we make drawings of monuments, but we know from experience that such drawings can convey an image inaccurately or even with distortions. In addition, our field experience shows that many monuments really disappear, and we are left with only their images”, — explained Viktoria Panchenko, researcher at the Hermitage, — “Students who come to St. Petersburg for their internship, get the opportunity to touch the ancient layers of Russian history, see chronicled cities, medieval fortresses and, no less important, visit the halls of the Hermitage, which simply presents an encyclopedia of world culture”.

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