Specially processed high-resolution images were taken of the Black Stone, the ancient rock set into the corner of the Kaaba in Makkah, the centre of the holiest site in Islam.
The official account of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque said it documented the Black Stone “with Focus Stack Panorama, which uses a technology in which images are combined with [different] clarity, in order to produce a single image with the greatest accuracy”.
The Black Stone, or Hajar Al Aswad in Arabic, was placed by the Prophet Mohammed in the Kaaba in 605 CE.
Photo stacking is a process of stitching together hundreds of images taken of different parts of the subject at different focal lengths to create a single shot in high resolution. It is often used to create detailed landscapes and close-up macro shots.
Shot over seven hours, the 1,050 photos took the team another 50 hours to combine to produce the 49,000-megapixel image. For comparison, an iPhone 12 has a 12-megapixel camera.
The Black Stone comprises eight small rocks affixed to a large stone encased in a silver frame.
The Black Stone is the point from which the circumambulation begins and ends for tawaf, the ritual where pilgrims go around the Kaaba seven times anticlockwise to complete the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage.
Pictures of the Black Stone took the internet by storm as hashtag #BlackStone trended on Twitter in Saudi Arabia and people shared the never-before-seen pictures of the stone, which is deemed sacred by Muslims owing to its rich history.