How high school students are using cutting-edge tech to preserve ancie

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In late 2020, long-simmering tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over a disputed territory escalated into war. Over six weeks, missiles, drone assaults, and heavy artillery hearth erupted all through the area, generally known as Nagorno-Karabakh. In the long run, a ceasefire was known as, and the area got here into the formal jurisdiction of Azerbaijan.

[Photo: courtesy Tumo]

For teenage students within the metropolis of Stepanakert, the de facto capital of the contested and ethnically Armenian area, the warfare introduced a sudden significance to a just lately accomplished after-school undertaking. By happenstance, they created a precious digital report of what’s turn into a extremely contested historic monument.

[Photo: courtesy Tumo]

In the summertime of 2019, 23 students in Stepanakert had undertaken a 3D scan of an area historic website, the Dadivank Monastery. A cluster of stone buildings on a website that dates again to the 5th century, it’s thought to be probably the most necessary websites of medieval Armenia’s Christian historical past. With the area and the monastery now in the hands of Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority nation that has challenged the Armenian roots of the monastery, the students’ scan might characterize a vital supply of historic knowledge.

[Photo: courtesy Tumo]

The undertaking was led by the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, a free after-school program, targeted on using expertise to educate students coding, robotics, 3D animation, video and music manufacturing, drawing, and inventive writing. Three facilities in Armenia, together with its most important location within the capital Yerevan, serve greater than 20,000 students a yr. A brand new location in Stepanakert had about 1,200 students earlier than the warfare. The middle introduced in U.S.-based scanning knowledgeable Jay Perez to lead the workshop that resulted within the 3D scan and detailed fashions of the monastery buildings. A 3D walkthrough of the monastery is now accessible on-line.

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[Photo: courtesy Tumo]

The undertaking was meant to introduce the students to rising applied sciences used each for historic preservation and new development–abilities that might assist put together them for future jobs within the preservation and constructing industries, in accordance to Marie Lou Papazian, govt director of the TUMO Middle. Unexpectedly, the scanning undertaking has created a exact digital report of a contested area.

[Photo: courtesy Tumo]

“It’s a really precarious scenario,” Papazian says. “These lands and people monuments are Armenian monuments, however [Azerbaijan] is asserting that they are not Armenian monuments.”

[Photo: courtesy Tumo]

The scan paperwork each the inside and exterior of the monastery advanced, which was constructed over the course of a number of centuries, and consists of detailed wall frescoes, stone carvings, and Armenian stone crosses, generally known as Khachkars. By mounting a 3D scanner at numerous factors contained in the monastery’s partitions, the students captured the area down to a decision of between 1 and three millimeters, and drones have been used to {photograph} the exteriors. This report, she says, may turn into necessary if the monastery is altered or broken beneath its new jurisdiction.

[Photo: courtesy Tumo]

“They’ll in all probability not destroy it. However all through time, they will do numerous issues. They will erase numerous layers,” she says. “Armenian carvings may disappear, Armenian cultural symbols may disappear, others may seem all of the sudden.”

“It’s scary that not solely pure disasters can destroy cultural heritage, however mankind can destroy cultural heritage. We’ve seen that in Syria and Iraq,” she provides.

[Photo: courtesy Tumo]

The future of the monastery and the area are nonetheless open questions. For now, the TUMO Middle in Stepanakert continues to function, although it solely serves about half the quantity of students as earlier than the warfare. Papazian says the middle has purchased one other 3D scanner and plans to proceed documenting historic websites within the area. “We would like to scan the remainder of no matter continues to be accessible to us,” she says. “Capturing all that, in case something occurs, could be very, crucial.”

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Having the students proceed this work can be vital, she says, each as preparation for real-world jobs but additionally as a type of cultural possession. “They stay there, and it’s their cultural heritage. They’ve to be in cost and perceive it,” she says. “It belongs to them additionally.”