Laser Survey to be Performed on the Step Pyramid at Saqqara

H.E. Farouk Hosni, Minister of Culture, announced that the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), in collaboration with a Japanese-American mission, is carrying out a laser scanning survey of the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, in an attempt to create a virtual three-dimensional model of Egypt’s oldest pyramid. This project is within the framework of the Ministry of Culture’s and SCA’s commitment to protect and preserve Egypt’s cultural and archaeological heritage.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the SCA, considers the survey of Djoser’s pyramid to be an archaeological salvage project. The Step Pyramid was built during the reign of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty (c. 2687-2668 BC). It is the first pyramid in Egyptian history and also the earliest stone structure of its size. Over the years, the six steps of the pyramid have been exposed to natural erosion leading to its deterioration.

Dr. Hawass stated that this survey is being conducted in collaboration with a Japanese mission headed by Dr. Kosuke Sato of Osaka University and an American mission led by Dr. Mark Lehner, Director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA). This project intends on archaeologically documenting the Step Pyramid in order to greater understand its various stages of construction by using a variety of laser scanners including the Zoser Scanner, which was custom designed to scan the pyramid by Develo Solutions of Osaka, Japan.

Dr. Sato said that the Zoser Scanner, which is carried on the backs of professional climbers as they rappel down the faces of the pyramid’s six gigantic steps, uses infrared signals to gather coordinates and elevations of the thousands of points on the monument. The scanner gathers data at the exceedingly fast rate of 40,000 points per second in order to create a virtual three-dimensional model of the Step Pyramid, which will be a valuable reference for restorers, archaeologists, and architects involved in the restoration of the pyramid and for the continual monitoring of its condition. The laser scanning survey of the Step Pyramid will take four weeks to complete.

Photo Step Pyramid - Copyright (c) Andrew Bayuk
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