Seagate and international non-profit organization CyArk are helping to preserve the ancient temple of Wat Phra Si San Phet in the historic city of Ayutthaya, Thailand.
The two partners recently launched the latest in a long series of historical preservation projects — an effort to digitally scan and archive this UNESCO World Heritage site, in which data and images captured by drones, cameras and laser scanning equipment will be turned into 3D models for the public to later experience on the web and in virtual reality.
“We’re at a pivotal point in history, in which data capture, storage and processing technology are all advanced enough to digitally preserve some of our world’s most unique and historically significant locations,” said Tim Bucher, Seagate senior vice president of consumer solutions. “We’re excited to partner with CyArk again this year to initiate their very first project in Thailand and participate in this journey of cultural preservation.”
Since 2015, Seagate has been a partner and sponsor of CyArk. The Oakland, California-based organization has digitally preserved 200 cultural heritage sites in 40 countries since 2003. Their mission: to preserve those sites before they are lost to natural disasters, looting, wars or the ravages of time.
14th-century capital of the Siamese Kingdom, Ayutthaya was mostly destroyed in 1767
The city of Ayutthaya, located about 85 kilometers (53 miles) north of Bangkok, flourished from the 14th to the 18th centuries as the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. During this time, it was a center of global diplomacy and commerce. The city was destroyed in 1767, leaving behind only stone monuments. Today, the site is protected under Thai law and is an extensive archaeological park, a top tourist attraction and an important center of Thailand’s heritage.
Earlier this summer, a three-person CyArk team traveled to Ayutthaya for a seven-day digital-preservation project, where they were joined by Seagate’s Tim Bucher and Piangruetai Sivaratana, vice president of operations at Seagate’s campus in Korat, Thailand. During that time, the CyArk team captured 170 scans of the ancient site and 90,000 photos, for a total of 2.7TB of data.
The team used a DJI Phantom 4 drone for aerial photos and videos, along with a robotic camera system on the ground and a FARO 3D laser scanner, said Anthony Fassero, vice president of capture and production at CyArk.
Capturing data to ignite wonder, curiosity and a shared understanding
Seagate supports CyArk both in the field and at its offices with storage solutions such as the LaCie® Rugged® USB-C, Rugged RAID, 2big and 12big, along with Seagate’s Innov8®, IronWolf™ purpose-build drives for NAS, and other high-capacity products. These devices ensure that the massive 3D data files from the field are safely backed up, centralized and ready for processing to create detailed maps and architectural drawings that aid in the conservation of heritage sites.
The stored data also is used to create interactive VR experiences for students, tourists and academic researchers alike, while helping to preserve the historical design and architecture of Ayutthaya’s ancient temples and buildings.
“We want to capture and share this information to ignite wonder, curiosity and a shared understanding of our past,” said Fassero. “We think VR is a great technology for educating and making more people aware of these ancient sites.”
New technologies that boost the preservation of Thailand’s cultural heritage
All of that data was backed up each day in the field using LaCie Rugged drives, and then duplicated again in the evening, ensuring that researchers had two copies of their data at all times. Back in their office in California, the CyArk team needs “big and fast storage,” Fassero explained, like the LaCie 2big and 12 big products to help streamline their work as they create sophisticated 2D and 3D models from all of the laser scans, photos and videos collected at Ayutthaya.
All of that post-processing work can expand the original 2.7TB of data collected in Ayutthaya to some 20TB of data in the office.
“The new technologies that Seagate and CyArk bring to Ayutthaya boost the preservation of Thailand’s cultural heritage while promoting the historic city of Ayutthaya as a major tourist attraction for Thai and international visitors,” said Prateep Phengtako, deputy director general with Thailand’s Ministry of Culture. “We thank Seagate and CyArk for their invaluable contribution towards conserving these national treasures and allowing future generations to experience Ayutthaya in an entirely new manner.”