B1 Intermediate Other 1008 Folder Collection
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As an archaeologist, we know that the past is fragile and deteriorating.
It doesn't matter whether it's British heritage, it's Egyptian heritage, or
it's New Zealand heritage:
these things do not survive, and that's just the nature of it.
So, everything we do is about conservation --
recording and preserving as much as we can for the future.
There's a huge amount of material that's preserved by the desert sands and the climate.
With the tourist industry, people very rightly want to see as many of these monuments as they can.
That inevitably puts a lot of pressure on some of the monuments.
I think it's our duty to the material to consider it an act of urgency to record
as much as we can.
The Griffith Institute was founded 75 years ago,
and it's named after the first Professor of Egyptology, Francis Llewelyn Griffith.
He set up a library, and also research projects
that were trying to gather together a bibliography
of everything published about Ancient Egypt.
Howard Carter was a very talented artist who'd been working in Egypt for some years.
He was the person that, most famously, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.
And we have the majority of those records here.
The tomb of Tutankhamun was built by extremely skilled craftsmen to last for eternity.
But it was never ever meant to be visited.
And what happens when a thousand people a day
go into a space that was never meant to be visited?
I'm not an Egyptologist, nor a conservator.
Our job is to provide data and information.
Most of the work we do in the tomb is devoted to digitising it.
Different kinds of data: from 3-dimensional to colour,
to X-ray, to infrared, and historical photographs --
and that's my relationship with the Griffith Institute here.
[Elizabeth Frood:] The primary resource was the Burton photographs.
Burton was an incredibly gifted photographer, whom Carter managed to involve in the tomb's discovery.
He produced these incredibly detailed records
of all the objects and the tomb walls, and the tomb environment.
Factum Arte were able to use the photographs
to reconstruct scenes that had been damaged by the excavation process.
[Adam Lowe:] We can rematerialise it, physically, with the qualities of the original object.
It's an exact portrait of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 2009.
When I say 'exact', it's probably exact to a fifth of a millimetre.
[Elizabeth Frood:] In order to create the replica,
the recording work they were doing in the original tomb
gives us a conservation record that is unparalleled.
[Richard Parkinson:] We're at a point where we can enter
a whole new phase, to really reinvent Griffith's vision
of making all of these resources about an ancient culture
fully accessible across the world, with digital means.
A lot of objects that we consider real have already
been extensively restored, have been taken out of their contexts,
and are displayed in environments actually do not relate
to that object in any meaningful way --
especially if they're in a art galleries and things.
The idea of the 'real' is actually a bit of a fiction,
and this distinction between the real and the replica is something
that we've created, and it's something that needs to be questioned and taken apart.
But could you really do that switch, so that they start thinking that it's better
to visit a facsimile than to visit the original?
We've had, in Egypt, this wonderful opportunity: so, at the moment, people
can visit both.
So we really want them to go to both, and look at both and ask themselves
that question. And, at normal viewing distance, there is no difference.
If you start thinking about that, then you start thinking about what you're gaining and
what you're losing.
This is perhaps a landmark, a watershed -- a moment where visiting a facsimile
looks and feels the same as it does to visit the original.
[Elizabeth Frood:] I think a project like the replica project, which the Griffith was
a part of, creates a space that anyone can go into and think about replicas vs.
originals; what is authentic, what isn't? What do we do when tombs start to deteriorate?
What possibilities do we have open to us?
And that's not a debate that should be just centred in universities or academic institutions.
It needs to be a public debate, it needs to involve all the communities that have
an interest in Egypt.
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Conserving by copying: 3D Printing Tutankhamun's Tomb

1008 Folder Collection
TeacherJennifer Bryne published on March 29, 2015
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