3D Laser Scanning Services Help Preserve Mayan Temple

observe, preserve, and recreate

Preserving a 1,400-year-old site can be tricky because not all of the sites may be safe for humans, and some places might be too fragile to touch or extract information from. This is why technological advances are being used to observe, preserve, and recreate famous historical sites like Mayan temples. 3D laser scanning services are being used because they are non-invasive ways to collect information on a historical place. It can be used on landmarks, statues, historical buildings, and even Mayan temples. 

Heather Richards-Rissetto, Richard L. Wood, and Christine E. Wittich spent the majority of June deep down, 30 meters below ground, doing lidar scans of Temple 16 at Copán, a UNESCO World Heritage site in western Honduras that was once a Mayan city. This team will use 3D laser scanning services to help uncover the mysteries and damage of the Mayan city.

How The Data From 3D Laser Scanning Services Was Used

They converted the data acquired at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln into 3D geometry of the temple, including its excavation tunnels, the building built over centuries — and the destruction. 3D scanning services can help preserve a site by uncovering the damaged areas without further invasion. It can help the process out the steps needed to preserve the figure or building, or it can create a digital replica so the researchers understand what it would look like as a whole.

This groundbreaking endeavor aims to continue conserving Rosalila, a temple that was initially kept by ancient Mayans dating all the way back to 600 A.D. The three-story early classic era edifice, which is more than 1,400 years old, retains its intricate plaster panels and original paint. It houses countless treasures and is adorned with iconography on the interior and outside. This is the first time 3D laser scanning services have been utilized in a tropical environment to scan a subterranean structure.

Richards-Rissetto was invited by connections formed during her continuing studies in Copán to digitally capture Rosalila and its house, Temple 16, in order to detect and mitigate structural problems. Richards-Rissetto has previously employed a variety of technologies, including 3D laser scanning services and virtual reality, to preserve and share ancient Maya settlements digitally, but this was a far larger undertaking.

3D laser scanning services are also helping the team stay safe by looking through the digital world. It is easy to lose position and orientation by site. 3D laser scanning services help take the guesswork out of where the team is when they are deep underground. 

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