Rome Symposium, Exhibit to Highlight the Digital Future of World Heritage

Author: Ashley Johnston

In collaboration with NASA, UNESCO, and the Soprintendenza Speciale dei Beni Archeologici di Roma, the University of Notre Dame will present a symposium on April 2-4, 2014 in Rome that sheds new light on how new technologies contribute to our understanding of the world’s past.

Led by Notre Dame’s group in Digital Historical Architectural Research and Material Analysis (DHARMA), the symposium on “The Digital Future of World Heritage” will gather world leaders in the sciences and humanities and their professional peers to focus for two days on how existing and state-of-the-art tools can be combined to change how  future generations to experience, interpret, preserve, and manage sites of global and historic importance.

The results of these new methods and tools, such as laser scanners and ‘gigapan’ cameras, will be featured in a new exhibit of materials set to display from April to September 2014 in the Roman Forum itself. Located in the Curia Julia which housed the Roman Senate, the exhibit will draw attention to how methods of scientific documentation have evolved, giving global visitors to Rome a greater understanding of how the Forum was understood  over time from 1905 to 2014. 

Featuring a first-ever 3-D model of the Forum based on the DHARMA group’s unique  collection of digital data, the exhibit “Revisiting the Roman Forum: from Pen to Pixel”  will also feature panoramic photographs of the Roman Forum taken by DHARMA’s digital ‘gigapan’ cameras, similar to those developed by NASA to produce the first high-resolution images of the surface of Mars. Curated in partnership with the Superintendence of the Archeological Heritage of Rome, the exhibit will also feature never before seen historic drawings and texts and new watercolor renderings based on the group’s new, precise digital measurements. 

The DHARMA group is a research team founded in 2007 and based at the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture. Under the direction of Dr. Krupali Krusche, the group documents historic monuments of World Heritage Sites around the world with the use of Leica 3-D laser scanners and Gigapan cameras. These devices provide researchers with the most field-efficient methods of data collection available today. Recently the team has used the devices to understand the effects of time on historic buildings, giving  governments and state agencies better information for reconstructing and preserving buildings of world historical value. 

The exhibit, “Revisiting the Roman Forum: From Pen to Pixel,” is curated by Krupali Krusche, Patrizia Fortini, and Giovanna Lenzi-Sandusky. The symposium is supported and organized by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, with additional support from Notre Dame International.


Principal Collaborators

Prof. Krupali Krusche, Director D.H.A.R.M.A.
School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Patrizia Fortini, archeologist of site
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma

Prof. Giovanna Lenzi-Sandusky
Italian Studies, University of Notre Dame
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