Led by Co-Director Bryan Kraemer, the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition is developing an immersive 3D model of the 46+ archaeological sites found in this region of the Eastern Desert. This makes use of the ground-based photogrammetric data gathered in previous seasons along with satellite-based photographs and digital elevation models to make a seamless walk-through of the archaeological areas of Wadi el-Hudi. In the preliminary model (see video) Site 9 at Wadi el-Hudi was rendered in high definition using Unreal Engine. Currently the model incorporates the entire region at low resolution and some sites at high resolution. Eventually the model will encompass other sites in the region at the same high definition. This digital record of the monuments and archaeology of Wadi el-Hudi in VR will make our survey and excavation data not only accessible to the public, but also serves as a digital reconstruction of the archaeological sites currently undergoing destruction due to modern mining.
During the initial phase of this project Bryan, along with a team of undergraduate students at CSUSB, developed and refined the model of Site 9, which is a Middle Kingdom (c. 2000 to 1700 BCE) site likely founded during the reign of Senwosret I. Architecture present at this site includes a rectangular settlement, amethyst mine, and areas for refining amethyst. Our recent work has shed more light on the function of this building as a multipurpose building containing housing, administrative, and storage areas for high officials.
Our VR model was built using past survey and excavation data recorded during the past six field seasons. A LEICA total station was used to map architecture, artifacts, excavation areas, and inscriptions at each archaeological site. During the 2019 season, we completed detailed photogrammetric mapping of the ancient sites to produce high-definition models of Wadi el-Hudi. Thousands of photographs of the largest sites at Wadi el-Hudi were uploaded to Agisoft Photoscan and overlaid with mapping survey data. This process produced 3D models of the sites that people can “walk through”. CSUSB students spent the 2021 summer developing and designing these immersive VR models of the sites at Wadi el-Hudi, using the 3D Nefertari project as inspiration. The 3D model was developed using Unreal Engine, a gaming platform developed by Epic Games. These 3D models were then laid over a landscape rendered from DigitalGlobe (now Maxar) satellite imagery and digital terrain model. Additionally, our team is working to make 3D models of artifacts (see the 3D model of WH 21) to incorporate into the virtual landscape.
We hope, with future funding, to make the Site 9 model available and accessible to the public soon and to expand the 3D model to include additional sites at Wadi el-Hudi. We eventually would also like to develop additional pedagogical materials for the 3D model to make it accessible for various audiences, including scholars, non-archaeologists, and K-12 students.
Keep an eye out for more news!