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Politecnico di Milano 3D scans Holy Sepulchre for restoration project

Over 50,000 images were taken for a photogrammetric study of the site

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The Politecnico di Milano, one of the leading technological universities in the World, is taking part in the Restoration of the Floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by creating the guidelines for modelling and sharing data for a conservation and restoration project. The team from Politecnico di Milano used 3D scanning technology to perform a detailed survey to document the state of conservation prior to the intervention.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most suggestive locations in Jerusalem, one of the cities in the world with the most history and historical artefacts and buildings. It represents the location where the body of Jesus was deemed to have been laid to rest and, while this may not correspond to historical truth, the Church itself is a magnificent representation of the different Christian faiths that have lived through the ages in the holy city. No church, anywhere in the world, comes close to it in terms of its ability to move the souls of believers.

In order to study the restoration project, the researchers created models of the floor and the surrounding architecture, starting from the laser scanner data. This laser scanner data was acquired by the project coordination group on site, in the midst of the pandemic (led by architect Osama Hamdan). The high-resolution photogrammetric survey, carried out on site by researchers from the Politecnico between September and October 2021, acquired over 50,000 high-resolution images, using a system designed ad hoc. Now that the data has bene acquired a 3D model can be built and eventually it will be possible to reproduce any single element in the Floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by various 3D printing technologies, including those that use stone-based materials.

A team from Politecnico di Milano used 3D scanning to perform a detailed survey to document the state of conservation of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre itself is a magnificent representation of the different Christian faiths that have lived through the ages in the holy city.

“The system we designed,” explained Prof. Luigi Fregonese from the Department of Architecture, Construction Engineering and Built Environment at the Politecnico di Milano, “consists of a special trolley on which we engineered an articulated lighting and acquisition system, with controlled intensity and colouring. This was integrated with a topographic survey for processing and verifying the final result, a digital image, an orthophoto, with very high resolution, metrically reliable and precise, of the entire floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”

The research group from the Politecnico, MantovaLAB – HESUTECH group from the Politecnico di Milano Mantua Campus (ABC Department), which is coordinated by professors Andrea Adami, Luigi Fregonese, Stefano della Torre and the Vice Rector of the Mantua Campus Federico Bucci, worked in continuous coordination with the internal staff at the church, in order to avoid interference with normal liturgical activities and visits by pilgrims and tourists who, despite the pandemic, still filled the church every day.

The project manager for the conservation and restoration of the floor – the start of which has recently been announced – on behalf of the Custody of the Holy Land, is the Centro di Conservazione e Restauro La Venaria Reale [CCR-VR] in Turin, with the support of a multidisciplinary team, while the direction of the archaeological excavation has been entrusted to La Sapienza University of Rome.

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