A Decade of Digital Documentation at the Ramesseum

Dr. Christian Leblanc of the CNRS mission to Western Thebes leads the archaeological team at the Ramesseum, the Temple of Ramses II.  Since 2000, INSIGHT has contributed to the ongoing scientific exploration of the Ramesseum, the Mansion of Thousands of Years of Ramses II.  In this short article, we present an overview of three collaborative CNRS/INSIGHT projects.

The Ramesseum - A Visual Introduction

Despite significant dismantling and reuse in antiquity, the Ramesseum is a remarkably complete example of a Ramesside temple.  Though smaller and less complete than the neighboring Temple of Ramses II, Medinet Habu, the Ramesseum is unique for its intact mudbrick vaults outlying the central stone temple.  In the image below, the Sanctuary footprint is seen in the foreground, with the portal to the Hypostyle Hall beyond.

For an interactive look at the Ramesseum, try the RamsesFlex Viewer created for INSIGHT by Antonio Hui.


Archaeological map of Western Thebes


In the long history of modern cartography, an enormous number of high quality maps have been deposited in the public domain.  While these maps are often older (the map we will consider here is from 1962), the information they contain is vitally important and often can't be found elsewhere.  As digital maps are being adopted throughout the humanities, synthesizing the content of old maps into a single coherent (digital) archive is therefore becoming a popular goal for archeologists.

This article details an example of reviving an old map -- in our case, a paper map of Western Theban hills in Upper Egypt.  We have adapted this map for Alban-Brice Pimpaud's Archaeological map of Western Thebes, a project of the Supreme Council of Antiquities GIS Center. INSIGHT has also contributed the same 3D map data to the J. Paul Getty Museum's Valley of the Queens project.  In both cases, these projects aim to gather as much documentation as possible into a consistent, reliable resource. Below is a rendering of the Theban hills model.


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News & Events

The Smithsonian Museum's work in 3D Digitization. INSIGHT Board member Kelly Roberson brought the Smithsonian's recent 3D work to our attention, including publicly accessible data for 3D printing similar to INSIGHT's Maya Skies Archive (  To read more about the Smithsonian's plans, please see this news story:


Current Questions in Authenticity. This day-long symposium at UC Berkeley will be held February 3, 2012, as is open to the public.  Several people on the INSIGHT team will be participating.  The event is free and open to the public; RSVP to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


INSIGHT's Kevin Cain is serving on the International Scientific Committee for VAST 2011. The International Symposium of Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Culture Heritage (VAST) conference will be held October 18-21, 2011, in Prato, Tuscany, Italy.  Kevin previously co-chaired VAST 2004, gave the keynote for VAST 2003 and has presented papers in other years.

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the Institute for Study and Integration of Heritage Techniques

P.O. Box 1166, Berkeley CA  94701-2166

Mission statement

INSIGHT works to document and visualize the human record.

For cultural heritage specialists, INSIGHT acts as a bridge between the disciplines of archaeology, art history, computer graphics, and computer vision.  For the general public, INSIGHT fosters interest in archaeology through the lively digital media we create.