I was immersed into the world of virtual archeology for my Masters Research Project at Ryerson University. The focus of this project was the digital reconstruction of the el-Hibeh temple in Egypt. After four months I believe I was able to demonstrate the potential this medium has to offer as a way of bridging the past and present. I'm currently visualizing the past, present, and future of a pre-contact indigenous community.
Just a quick update (away from the actual model). On June 7th Jean Li gave me a guided tour of the Egyptian collection at the Royal Ontario Museum. I was able to snap a few pictures which I will be able to use as reference.
A few gaps were filled in. At first, I thought that it was a khekerfrieze on top of the screened elements between the columns. I was able to get my hands on the original print version of Rankes illustration of the front of the temple, and it appears to be a repeating Uraeus relief (similar in style to the pic I took at the ROM).
At first I thought the details along the cornice was a Khepri scrarab, but after discussing this with Jean we’ve come to the conclusion that these are more likely to be a series of cartouche.
I’ve incorporated some of these modifications into the front of the temple.
For the past week I’ve been debating on how I should handle all of the stone blocks that are used extensively throughout the temple (for the walls, floors, columns…etc). Part of this process is to insure that I am mindful of the actual placement of these elements. I’ve been comparing the Heidelberg photographs to Ranke’s site illustrations. From what I can see they seem very accurate.
I’ve started placing proxy bricks (basic polygonal cubes) in the Pronaos and ramp.
I’m testing a few approaches to see which one might hold up better in VR. Initialy I thought I would break the various elements up into sections, then using either Mudbox or Zbrush, I would detail the proxy cubes and extract a normal map back onto a more simplistic type of geometry. I tested this on the ramp, which kind of works. However, because this is just a bump map if someone where to view this on a shear angle, the illusion of detail would flatten. Just a side note, once I get into the Unreal Engine I might revisit this approach with displacement maps….or possibly vector displacement maps.
My hope in using this approach is to keep the interactivity within the virtual world crisp and speedy. I wasn’t particularly happy with the initial results, although untextured (lacking diffuse colour, specular maps….etc) I could tell that there was a fidelity issue, particularly from extreme angles. My second approach is to texture 2-3 groupings of individual low resolution blocks then hand place each one (similar to how I placed the proxy cubes to begin with).
UPDATE: The known floor tiles (according to Ranke) have been placed, as of June 8th. I’ll need to fill in the gaps with a similar patterning. But I’m moving onto the interior walls first.
There is very little to go by when constructing the columns from the first pillar hall and twin sphinx (possible?) statues at the temple’s entrance. Jean Li suggested that the columns are more than likely papyriform columns. This assumption is based on the discovered decorative ring from the base of the capital.
This ring depicts open buds, however Ranke’s interpretations show a closed bud variation. We’ve decided to go with Ranke’s version for the initial construction.
The small statues are believed to be criosphinxes. I haven’t been able to find many references of statues Ranke depicts in his illustration.
I’m going in the direction of the what is seen at the Karnak temple.
I had the opportunity to show progress of the temple to Christopher Watts’ 4th year anthropology class at the University of Waterloo. Although I’m still at a preliminary stage, few questions came up around reference material.
Are the images being used as reference from the same period as the el-Hibeh temple?
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of existing architectural resources around the period Hibeh temple was constructed (during the 22nd dynasty). The illustrations by Ranke, which I’m using for the preliminary model on, are largely based on conjecture (how he imagined the temple might have look like). Dealing with only a front, side, and top orthographic images there is quite a bit of information that is being lost in translation. To fill in the gaps, I’ve begun to use images of similar structures from different periods. For example, I’m using the Temple of Hathor, Dendera (from the 1st century BC) to understand how the front screen was integrated into the first row of columns.
Photo by: Vladimir Bozhilov Licenced from: stock.adobe.com