Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Harvard, MFA Unveil Virtual 3D Tour Of Ancient Egyptian Pyramids

Now you will be able to fly around and into pyramids. Fabulous, and educationally potentially wonderful! It would be interesting to know though whether the revenues that one can imagine could and will be generated by selling the trip to Giza to virtual tourists -- and the much larger revenues one imagines lie down the road once this academic tool gets turned into Sim Pyramid or Grand Theft Chariot or the obvious Raiders-of-the-Lost Ark videogame -- are going to be shared with the Egyptian SCA to help it better protect the actual sites, or whether the software company is going to pocket the profits. At a meeting I attended a few years ago in Alexandria I suggested that the SCA could raise quite a lot of money by licensing image capture rights to the videogame industry, and got blank stares. Let's hope they haven't gotten snookered.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Iraq using satellites to monitor archaeological sites

The Tourism Authority, it is reported, has set up a special department to control and monitor areas using satellite imaging. That sounds promising. It is difficult to assess what this means, however, especially as the measure is being presented in the context of complaints about inadequate funding. Satellite monitoring, if it is to be done in a timely enough way to nip looting in the bud, is likely to be quite expensive, and the site monitoring systems being deployed in other countries in the region have turned out to entail image gathering once every six months or so, despite being hyped as anti-looting tools. So if the time series is short, Iraq's new satellite monitoring may well be a valuable way to extend the capabilities of the antiquities police, but we need to learn more. And the cost-benefit analysis needs to be done as well. Are these images going to be costing Iraq money to purchase, or is Google (or whoever the source is) donating them?