Digitization process in the Mogao Caves

Digitization process in the Mogao Caves

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In northwestern China are the mogao caves, a place where you don't take your eyes off stunning Buddhist paintings drawn no less than 1,400 years ago. Throughout its tour you can see scenes of hunters, Buddhas, flying deities, Bodhisattvas and caravanserais.

From the 4th century onwards, the caves near Dunhuang they were a place where samples of Buddhist art were deposited for a millennium. It is considered by UNESCO as one of the richest treasures where Chinese, Greek, Roman, Islamic and indigenous cultures are found, said Mimi Gates, former director of the Seattle Art Museum who is helping to preserve this part of the heritage of The humanity.

However, they are concerned because each visitor with their body and breath alters the environment in which they are kept. When tourists enter the cave, there is a sudden increase in humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide, the alteration of which is even more damaging than camera flashes. Paints contain natural salts that have been produced by the same rocks, if the humidity rises above a certain value, the salts can begin to suck the humidity out of the air and thus begin its deterioration process.

In 2012 the place had about 200,000 visitors, and although the recommended maximum daily capacity is about 3,000, on a public holiday in October the place was seen by about 18,000 people.

A digitization process in order to reduce this problem and reduce the time that visitors spend inside the cave. Thousands of images have been taken from each camera using special lights to avoid damage, and then a team carefully creates an exact replica. However, the digitization of the caves is very difficult, it began in 1990, failing and starting again in 2000 thanks to technological advances. The most important challenge they face is capturing the freshness of colors, in particular pigments such as vermilion and malachite green.

Once the new system takes effect, visitors will be supervised as soon as they arrive at the airport - Dunhuang's sole point of entry - staying within a tightly controlled tourist loop. In a room they will see the high definition images of the interior part of the caves before witnessing it for a short period of time.

After the dunhuang heyday, the Silk Road fell into disuse and the caves abandoned, places that are now described by academics and hobbyists as majestic, incredible and magnificent.

I was born in Madrid on August 27, 1988 and since then I started a work of which there is no example. Fascinated by both numbers and letters and a lover of the unknown, that is why I am a future graduate in Economics and Journalism, interested in understanding life and the forces that have shaped it. Everything is easier, more useful and more exciting if, with a look at our past, we can improve our future and for that… History.

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