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Tech brings past to life for visitors at historical sites

China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-27 11:24

A restored section of the Great Wall runs along the crest of a mountain in Gansu province.[Photo/Xinhua]

LANZHOU — Embarking on a mesmerizing journey, visitors wear virtual reality glasses that transport them back to a bustling military fortress along the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), with vivid scenes of streets, military camps and farmhouses.

In Northwest China's Gansu province, a team of tech experts is harnessing digital technology to reconstruct segments of the Great Wall dating back over 400 years, showcasing and unraveling the cultural value of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Great Wall, a symbol of China, comprises many interconnected walls, some dating back 2,000 years. The existing sections have a total length of over 21,000 kilometers, with Gansu contributing nearly one-fifth to the overall length of this iconic structure.

Relying on ancient texts, digital technology and findings from on-site investigations, the technical team from Silk Road Infoport Co successfully restored three crucial military strongholds along the Gansu section of the Great Wall, said Wang Yu'ou, manager of the company's intelligent digital reconstruction project.

State-of-the-art technologies, including high-precision Beidou satellite positioning and drones, were employed during field investigations to authentically recreate historical artifacts, according to Wang.

Beyond the Great Wall, the team also used their digital expertise to restore the Nanzuo Ruins, a pivotal archaeological site that has shed light on early Chinese civilization.

The Nanzuo site's main palace, covering an indoor area of 630 square meters and dating back approximately 5,000 years, is considered by the archaeological community as the largest single indoor structure of its time in China.

Experts compiled, analyzed and encoded information such as documents, images and videos related to the ruins.

A multidimensional parameter information database assisted in the development of a panoramic presentation of the cultural heritage restoration.

"Digital technology can help us build models for the ancient palace and make it a reality," he said.

In recent years, China has increasingly employed digital technology to breathe life into historical artifacts. Leveraging technologies such as 5G, augmented reality, VR and artificial intelligence, cultural institutions and technology companies such as Tencent and Baidu have introduced a plethora of digital cultural products and projects.

A team from Tianjin University used centimeter-resolution continuous shooting to identify the ruins of more than 130 hidden doors at the Great Wall. About 900,000 items and sets of cultural artifacts at the Palace Museum have undergone digitization, constituting 48 percent of its total collections.

China's efforts to "revive" cultural artifacts aim to tell the story of its rich civilization. The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) underscores the nation's commitment to promoting free access and the digital development of museums and other public cultural venues.

Looking ahead, Wang's team aspires to capture the entire life cycle of the digital artifacts.

"By integrating various information parameters such as historical context and spatial details, along with the support of intelligent algorithms, we want to accurately recreate the artifacts during different periods," he said.




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