Elmina Castle

screenshot of digital elmina unity project.

In “Digital Elmina,” three University of Rochester faculty members—Renato Perucchio, professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering and director of the archeology, technology, and historic structures program; Michael Jarvis, associate professor of history and director of Smiths Island archeology project; and Christopher Muir, professor of mechanical engineering—created 3D reconstructions of Elmina Castle, which were then visualized through Unity Gaming Engine.

Built in 1482, Elmina is the best-preserved and most complete example of early European masonry construction in Ghana and served as an active commercial outpost over four centuries. The castle was also one of the most significant stops on the Atlantic slave trade route. Immersive technologies help us understand Elmina Castle’s past, convey this knowledge in the present, and ensure the castle’s survival in the future.

Hunt-Lenox Globe in 3D

zoomed in etching of a ship with a person at the front

This post was originally published on the Digital Scholarship Lab’s website.

Hunt-Lenox Globe
A photo of the Hunt-Lenox globe.

The Digital Scholarship Lab collaborated with the Lazarus Project to produce a 3D model of the New York Public Library’s Hunt-Lenox Globe, which dates from ca. 1510. Considering the size of the globe–it is only 5 inches in diameter–the 3D model not only facilitates access to the historic object but it also allows viewers to explore details of the globe otherwise hidden by its size and the bronze armillary sphere that contains it.

The Lazarus Project has recently imaged the Globus Jagellonicus from the Jagiellonian University Museum in Krakow, of which the DSL has also produced a 3D model, and is planning to image the Erdapfel from the Germanic Museum in Nuremberg. Ultimately this will result in 3D representations of all three of the world’s oldest known terrestrial globes.

Expanding capacity for 3D representations of cultural heritage objects

As a means of providing access to these artifacts, the DSL is expanding upon the 3D viewer originally built for the Ward Project to add features such as VR capability and annotations. The goal is to produce a presentation platform designed for 3D representations of cultural heritage objects that allows for virtual “guided exhibits” of the objects as well as independent exploration. The expanding toolset is designed to provide domain experts with the ability to uncover surface information about an object and disseminate their findings to a wider audience.

A rendering of the Hunt-Lenox globe in the DSL's 3D viewer.
A rendering of the Hunt-Lenox globe in the DSL’s 3D viewer.

Features of the 3D Viewer

Selections of the Hunt-Lenox Globe in the DSL’s 3D Viewer

Detailed view of the globe highlighting text that reads, "Here are dragons."
“hic sunt dracones” (here are dragons)

Dynamic lighting tools to highlight areas on the object

Tools of 3D reviewer that highlights an etched fish

Analyzing tools help viewers explore textures. Can you find the shipwreck?

Lighting options on the 3D viewer reveal details not readily apparent on the original.

Applying the 3D viewer's lighting tools to highlight details on the globe