Around the World in 80 Models: Petra

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Hop on board as we continue our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and are working our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.

This week we head to Jordan, where the Zamani Project has scanned the amazing ruins of the ancient city of Petra, all carved in the rock of the desert.

Petra, Jordan: Al Khazneh (The Treasury)

The Zamani project is a research group based in the Geomatics Division of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The project was started in 2004 with the aim of spatially documenting African heritage sites for conservation and restoration interventions, for education and research, to increase awareness of Africa’s heritage and a as record for future generations.  To date some 200 structures from over 60 sites have been recorded in 15 countries. The spatial, data captured on site, is processed to create textured (where possible) 3D models, site GISs, Panorama tours and other spatial materials.

The Zamani team uses a variety of laser scanners to capture 3D data of a site, first projects were executed with a Leica HDS 3000 scanner while recent work was mainly done with a Z+F 5010C scanner. Software to process the data is largely in-house, developed by UCT students and the Zamani project. Structure-from-Motion photography and photographic panoramas and panorama tours are employed to compliment the scanning.

Petra is an Arabian city in Jordan, carved out of the sand-stone mountains of Wadi Araba. It was established over 2000 years ago and became the capital of the Nabataeans. The stone-hewn tombs and monuments of Petra are in danger of destruction through earthquakes, floods and natural weathering and thus in need of monitoring and documentation.

Al Khazneh, also known as the Treasury, is one of Petra’s most famous monuments. It is the first monument  that is seen after entering Petra though a 1.2km long narrow canyon, known as the Siq. It was believed that treasures were hidden in the stone sphere above the entrance of Al Kazneh, which caused treasure hunters to shoot at the sphere. This futile attempt to expose the  non-existent ‘treasure” merely resulted in numerous bullet holes.

Al Khazneh was documented by the Zamani project during a number of field campaigns between 2010 and 2015 as part of UNESCO’s Siq Stability project. In addition to the principal objective of the project, the monitoring of the rock walls of the Siq via laser scanning, 30 important monuments were laser scanned for conservation purposes and as a record for the future. A Z+F 5010 scanner was used for the documentation. Together with the monuments, the landscape surrounding the tomb was scanned. This involved climbing up the steep sandstone mountains and using  donkeys to transport equipment. Many scans were taken in precarious situations at the edge of steep cliff faces.


Zamani Project Laser scanning Al Kheznah (The Treasury), Petra, Jordan

The laser scanning survey of Petra is part of the Siq Stability project, which is a “Funds In Trust” project of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for UNESCO. It is managed by the UNESCO Amman Office and has as main partners Italian geological experts from ISPRA (Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research – Geological Survey of Italy), the Zamani Research Group (University of Cape Town), as well as geologists and a surveyor from the Petra National Trust. It is undertaken in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DOA) and the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA).

To see more of the Zamani Project’s models here on Sketchfab, check out their profile!

About the author

Abby & Néstor

Abby and Néstor are Sketchfab Masters.
Abby Crawford, Ph.D. is trained in and passionate about Roman Archaeology and works as a freelance artifact illustrator and 3D scanner in California.
Néstor F. Marqués is a virtual Heritage & cultural diffusion researcher, and an enthusiast of ancient Rome’s culture.

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