Back up that cas­tle

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - TRAVEL -

LON­DON — We all know to back up our files and pho­tos, but what about our cas­tles and churches?

A non-profit named CyArk has cre­ated dig­i­tal copies of more than 100 of the world’s best-known mon­u­ments, map­ping Ro­man ru­ins, an­cient stat­ues and even an en­tire is­land. Now it plans 400 more, with the goal of pre­serv­ing the world’s most im­por­tant sites against war, wear and the im­pact of cli­mate change.

“There is never go­ing to be enough time or money to pre­serve ev­ery­thing,” CyArk co-founder Bar­bara Ka­cyra said Mon­day at a launch event at the Tower of Lon­don.

“If you can’t phys­i­cally save some­thing, your next best thing is to dig­i­tally pre­serve it.”

Oakland, Cal­i­for­nia-based CyArk works by us­ing 3-D laser scan­ners, radar and a host of other tech­nolo­gies to cre­ate de­tailed maps of fa­mous mon­u­ments — from Mt. Rush­more to the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa — mea­sur­ing nooks and nicks with mil­lime­ter pre­ci­sion.

Not only do the lasers cap­ture minute dam­age in­vis­i­ble to most cam­eras, the 3-D data can be used to cre­ate hy­per-re­al­is­tic mod­els and fly-over pro­grams used by tourists and ed­u­ca­tors.

Mas­ter copies of the mea­sure­ments are kept by Iron Moun­tain Inc., which stores two petabytes’ worth of data on mag­netic tape in its se­cure un­der­ground ar­chive at the bot­tom of a for­mer lime­stone mine in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Ka­cyra said the project was born out of the heart­break of see­ing the Tal­iban pul­ver­ize the Afghan Bud­dha stat­ues in 2001, but Gus­tavo Araoz, a se­nior preser­va­tion­ist who’s help­ing CyArk draw up a list of its next 400 sites, says sim­i­lar de­struc­tion is play­ing out in slow mo­tion across the globe.

“This hap­pens ev­ery day at a smaller and much less dra­matic scale,” he said.

There’s al­ready some ev­i­dence the preser­va­tion project is pay­ing div­i­dends. Ugan­dan diplo­mat Sam Muh­wezi told The As­so­ci­ated Press the 3-D model drawn up by CyArk was be­ing used to help re­store a fire-dam­aged tomb com­plex in his coun­try.

“It’s the per­fect ex­am­ple of why this kind of project is im­por­tant,” he said.

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