cooperation with the French
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
(CNRS), in late 2000 we began a multi-season project to digitally
reconstruct a colossal statue of Ramsses II at the site of the Ramesseum in
even than the two enormous colossi of memnon that stand nearby, this Ramsses
II colossus is among the largest ever built by ancient Egyptian hands.
Felled by Christians in antiquity, the monument nonetheless has continued to
elicit ardent fascination. Enspelled was the famed 19th century
illustrator David Roberts, and so enspelled many who have glimpsed his gauzy
romantic drawings. He wasn't alone in picturing this colossus as an
idealized 'perfect' ruin--this was, in fact, the site that inspired
Percy Bysshe Shelley's
Ozymandias of Egypt.
The colossus as it appears today.
A Colossal Undertaking
Given the force of the site's presence as a ruin, how
is it possible to imagine it rebuilt?
of producing a digital restoration came first in 1996 from Dr. Philippe
Martinez, in the form of proposals to Electricité
de France (EdF).
INSIGHT's auspices, work began in November 2000, and was completed in
with the CNRS scholarship to date, our goal was to put the colossus back
together. We were assisted by Dr. Christian Leblanc, who heads the
contemporary administration of the site.
down at the colossus from the
temporary scaffolding built for our scan work.
divided the huge number of existing fragments into three groups: a)
gigantic pieces requiring special equipment, b) smaller
pieces that were captured with a more portable system, and c) formless pieces
that did not require 3D digitizing at all.
There are an estimated 500 fragments extant, piled into
the long courses of piled stones seen at right. Of these, we worked with Dr. Leblanc to select 80 key
pieces for our reconstruction. Each of these pieces was then
exhaustively recorded, yielding approximately. 500,000 measurements per fragment.
At work, with a laser scanner in the foreground..
Shooting the Smaller
needed to document each fragment of the monument individually, as it appears to
today's visitors. This effort involved using
laser scanning to capture a 3D model of
each relevant granite chunk.
same digitizing process, we also captured the southern 'memnon' colossus as a three-dimensional template
on which to base our digital reconstruction of the Ramsses II colossus.
was done at night to minimize
ambient lighting spill.
A Look at the Data
data for a single fragment is shown below (left). At right, we see
another small fragment being digitized.
model of a single fragment, shown spun on a turntable.
fragments were positioned on caster
plates whenever possible, speeding the scanning.
Working on the Largest
collecting our field data for the smaller fragments fragments, we used a
separate optical triangulation scanner to document the largest pieces of the
colossus, shown in red below (at left). A detail view of the large
fragment field is shown at right, with notations for the many scans required
to capture all sides of these larger granite pieces.
of the colossus site, with the largest fragments in situ shown in red.
model of a single fragment,
shown spun on a turntable.
Working on the Largest
monumental fragments, seen at right, required very specialized work because
of their enormous size. Comprising hundreds of square meters in
surface area, a total of five days of scanning were required to capture
these forms in their entirety.
the largest piece of the ruin.
Assembling the Jig-saw
field work, we spent many months back in the lab registering the thousands
of individual scans we had gathered in the field. In August 2002, the
whole team gathered in Oakland, California to assemble the colossus, using
the newly registered pieces. After a week of assembly and testing
different placements, we arrived at the the model shown below. To the
left is a composite view of the most important fragments; to the right is a
rendering of the final model.
exploded view of the most crucial pieces of the colossus.
computer rendering of the colossus.
Considering a Detail
scanned all of the colossus fragments at <.01m resolution, we are able to
render good quality views of specific details, as shown below. The
target resolution of scans ranged from 0.5mm to 7mm, depending on the detail
present in the artifacts being scanned and scanning equipment used.
photo of a single fragment.
computer rendering of piece at left,
joined to another fragment below..