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Carleton University and CyArk Aid UNESCO in Documenting Earthquake-damaged Monuments at Bagan


BANGKOK, 30 September 2016 — Carleton University and CyArk have collaborated with UNESCO to deploy the latest technologies in documenting earthquake-damaged monuments in Bagan, Myanmar.  The team worked closely with the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DoA) to capture high-accuracy digital images of priority monuments using aerial drones and 3D laser scanners. 

Combined with initial efforts by the DoA and the Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University (MAEU), a total of 60 monuments have now been documented using these techniques. This documentation is essential for assessing the level of damage sustained by the monuments, particularly from aerial images that show damage to the shikaras (towers) of monuments.  In addition to aiding in the precise identification and analysis of damaged areas, the documentation will be useful in planning the restoration of the damaged/collapsed parts and decorative elements such as mural paintings and stucco works.

Supported by external funding, a team from Carleton University and CyArk undertook a 12-day field campaign to Bagan in September.  The campaign resulted in full digital documentation of nine major temples, including Sulamani, Ananda-ok-yaung and That-byin-nyu.  The documentation includes interior and exterior images and scans of the temples, which will be used to generate 3D models and orthophotos (rectified, undistorted photographs) of the recorded monuments.

To ensure sustainability of long-term efforts, the team trained local counterparts from the DoA and MAEU in field data acquisition and data processing techniques.  In addition, CyArk provided the DoA with eight-terabyte external back-up drives, which were generously donated by Seagate, to store the massive quantity of data generated in the damage assessment process.  CyArk also donated software for processing acquired digital data. Future support will be needed to conduct additional documentation of other damaged monuments and to provide further training to the Myanmar officials and volunteers.

UNESCO has been cooperating closely with the DoA to assess monuments damaged by the 6.8 earthquake that hit Myanmar on 24 August 2016.  To date, approximately 400 monuments have been identified as having sustained damage, affecting either structural stability or decorative elements.  The assessment will be used to determine priorities for immediate stabilization and to plan longer-term rehabilitation of the site. 

Carleton University has collaborated closely with UNESCO and the DoA in previous monument documentation efforts at Bagan since 2014.  Experts from the Carleton Immersive Media Studio research centre have provided guidance at Bagan on international standards and techniques in heritage documentation.

CyArk is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 to use new technologies to archive 3D documentation of the world's cultural heritage sites.  Previous documentation collected by CyArk at Bagan in May 2016 will be useful to compare with the current condition of various monuments.

The Government of Myanmar is committed to nominating the “Bagan Archaeological Area and Monuments” site to the World Heritage list.  The historic site contains more than 2500 Buddhist monuments built from the 10th to the 14th centuries AD.  UNESCO is providing support for the rehabilitation and long-term protection of this important cultural property.


Media contact:   

Noel Boivin, Media and Communications Officer, UNESCO Bangkok
Tel.: (66 2) 391-0577 Ext. 347
Fax: (66 2) 391-0866