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The scanning team in front of the dhows.
Doha: Qatar Museum Authority’s (QMA) National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), in cooperation with a team from the University of Exeter, has started a project to survey 14 vessels from the QMA collection of dhows.
By using a 3D laser scanning method, the Exeter team aims to produce digital 3D models of each dhow, together with more traditional naval and orthographic drawings.
The team comprises maritime archaeologists Dr John P Cooper from the Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter and Dr Chiara Zazzaro from the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and veteran Mines Engineer Dr Andy Wetherelt from the Camborne School of Mines at the University of Exeter.
Dr Cooper and Dr Zazzaro have worked for several years as part of the University of Exeter’s MARES project, recording traditional boats in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region using conventional surveying methods based on tape measures.
By joining forces with Dr Wetherelt, they have been able to incorporate cutting-edge laser-survey technologies into the process of recording maritime heritage.
In conjunction with its field work, the Exeter team held a lecture at MIA on introducing the public to objectives, methodology and preliminary results of the project.
Faisal Al Hitmi, NMoQ Deputy Director, said: “Our continuously growing dhow collection is considered one of the most important collections of traditional Arab and Indian Ocean boats in the world.
“It represents an important record of a disappearing heritage of the region. The 3D models that will result from this project will have multiple applications, including museum display, digital archives and public education and will become a lasting record of the collection. We would like to thank the Exeter University team on their cooperation and hard work on this project.
“It is important to produce a digital record of the boats for conservation and recording and to communicate this fascinating heritage to a wider audience. The 3D laser scanning is an excellent way to achieve this,” said Dr John Cooper.
The team has been working for the past month at the QMA boatyard at Doha port recording vessels using a Leica HDS 6000 Laser scanner.
Such scanners use a moving laser beam to record with great speed and accuracy any object placed before them.
In addition to scanning the boats with laser, the team is also using precisely calibrated digital photography to photograph the boats from the same vantage points as the scans.
This will allow them to combine the scans and photographs to produce realistic digital models of each of the dhows.