Virtual Reconstruction Of Ancient Temple Destroyed By ISIS Is Another Reason To Put Your Holiday Photos Into The Public Domain
from the fighting-terrorism-by-sharing dept
The Syrian civil war has led to great human suffering, with hundreds of thousands killed, and millions displaced. Another victim has been the region’s rich archaeological heritage. Many of the most important sites have been seriously and intentionally damaged by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). For example, the Temple of Bel, regarded as among the best preserved at the ancient city of Palmyra, was almost completely razed to the ground. In the past, more than 150,000 tourists visited the site each year. Like most tourists, many of them took photos of the Temple of Bel. The UC San Diego Library’s Digital Media Lab had the idea of taking some of those photos, with their many different viewpoints, and to combine them using AI techniques into a detailed 3D reconstruction of the temple:
The digital photographs used to create the virtual rendering of the Temple of Bel were sourced from open access repositories such as the #NEWPALMYRA project, the Roman Society, Oxford University and many individual tourists, then populated into Pointcloud, which allows users to interactively explore the once massive temple compound. Additionally, artificial intelligence applications were used to isolate the temple’s important features from other elements that may have appeared in the images, such as tourists, weather conditions and foliage.
The New Palmyra site asks members of the public to upload their holiday photos of ancient Palmyra. The photos are sorted according to the monument: for example, the Temple of Bel collection currently has just over a 1000 images taken before the temple’s destruction. Combining these with other images in academic and research institutions has allowed a detailed point cloud representation of the temple to be created. The model can be tilted, rotated and zoomed from within a browser. Using AI to put together images is hardly cutting-edge these days. In many ways, the key idea is the following note on the New Palmyra home page:
Unless otherwise specified, by uploading your photos or models to #NEWPALMYRA, they will be publicly available under a CC0 license.
Putting the images into the public domain (CC0) is necessary to make the combination of them easy without having to worry about attribution or, even more impossibly, licensing them individually. As the newly-resurrected Temple of Bel shows, once we ignore the copyright industry’s obsession with people “owning” the things they create, and simply give them to the world for anyone to enjoy and build on, we all gain.