Roman Forum    

Documentation in unprecedented detail for World Heritage Sites


DHARMA Lab uses both traditional and innovative methods of documentation of World Heritage sites. In July 2010, the Lab, in cooperation with the Sopritendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma, undertook a project at the Roman Forum, a World Heritage site —the center of political, religious, commercial, and judicial life in ancient Rome—to measure, document, and draw large areas of the historic site.

Employing the latest optical technology, a high definition-surveying laser, and Gigapan the team was able to document the existing state of the site in unprecedented detail. Traditional methods of hand-measuring and photogrammetry were conducted to supplement the data gathered through this digital technique. In a continuing partnership with the Soprintendenza, the DHARMA Lab produced detailed architectural drawings, a 3-D digital model, and high-resolution panoramic photographs, with detailed analysis forthcoming.

To access videos that show the Gigapan and 3D point cloud data on the Roman Forum please click here




Combining the traditional with the digital


Students at Notre Dame have spend the Fall 2010 in the World Heritage Studies course, under the Historic Preservation concentration at the school, rendering the data scanned at the Roman Forum site in vellum and water color. To date these are the most precise measured drawings that have been made from this ancient city, the cradle of western civilization.. Working on site in July 2010 a team of Notre Dame School of Architecture faculty and students produced 27 scans, 30 digital panoramic photography views, in addition to collecting hand-measured data. Over the following months, the DHARMA team produced a series of detailed drawings and watercolors based on the raw field data and panoramic views. Many of the original and derivative works and research findings were displayed in a 2014 Exhibit in Rome and detailed in various publications.

On April 12, 2019, DHARMA will release the Roman Forum App, which gives visitors an overview of seven standing monuments in the Forum, including five ancient temples and two triumphal arches.



Students and team members working on site in 2010 (credit: DHARMA)



    The Symposium and Exhibit    


Ground-breaking methods of documentation and interpretation of World Heritage Sites were the theme for a collaborative Symposium presented by the University of Notre Dame and the UNESCO World Heritage Center (WHC), in collaboration with Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Digital Future of World Heritage symposium took place in Rome, Italy, on April 2-4, 2014.

Learn more about the Symposium and the accompanying ExhibitRevisiting the Roman Forum: from Pen to Pixel, Methods of Documentation in the 20th and 21st Centuries on our News & Events pages.




 (credit: DHARMA)