Lasers make light work of mapping Iron Age site

More than 3,000 digital images have been stored to document historic Al Ain site that dates back to the Iron Age.

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage technicians conduct laser surveys on Hili-17 archaeological sites in Al Ain.
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ABU DHABI // Heritage experts are using laser technology to document an ancient site in Al Ain that dates back to the Iron Age.

The site, Hili-17, includes three excavated mud huts and is said to date to about 1,000BC.

The laser survey has built a detailed digital model of the huts on the north-western side of Hili garden. The method involved exposing surfaces to a laser beam to create three-dimensional images.

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage said the survey was conducted over four days by an expert in cultural heritage sites.

The method was chosen so surveyors can be more precise when coding the bent walls and irregular surfaces of the mud structures.

Also, due to the fragility of the structures, a laser allows for minimum contact between the surveyor and the construction model.

More than 100 pieces were surveyed in total, resulting in more than 3,000 digital images.

The photos will be added to three-dimensional models the team has created, allowing them to better map out their recording and restoration efforts.

It has been suggested Hili-17 was once an industrial centre, because researchers have found stoves they believe were used to produce pottery.

The buildings, which underwent the excavations in the early 1990s, have not received the necessary protection from the elements and have degraded significantly over the past 20 years. Rain, wind and sand storms have led to the decay, and in some cases collapse, of their fragile mud walls of dirt.