Cairo, June 20 : Scientists are carrying out a laser scanning survey of Djoser's Step Pyramid - Egypt's oldest pyramid complex, in an attempt to create its virtual three-dimensional model.
The Step Pyramid was built during the reign of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty (2687-2668 BC). It is the first pyramid in Egyptian history, and the earliest stone structure of its size.
The scanning of the pyramid is being done with the help of the Zoser Scanner.
Carried on the backs of three professional climbers as they grappled to descend all four faces of the pyramid's six gigantic steps, the Zoser Scanner records data at the exceedingly fast rate of 40,000 points per second using infrared signals to gather coordinates and elevations of thousands of points on the monument.
Culture Minister Farouk Hosni told Al-Ahram Weekly that such a project would not only provide a detailed map of the Step Pyramid, but would also create a virtual three-dimensional model of it.
This in turn will be a valuable reference for architects, restorers and archaeologists involved in the restoration of the pyramid and for the continual monitoring of its condition.
This project intends on completing the archaeological documentation of the Step Pyramid in order to better understand its various stages of construction.
A variety of laser scanners will be used, including the Zoser Scanner, which was custom designed to scan the pyramid by Develo Solutions of Osaka, Japan.
According to Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), the project falls within the framework of the commitment made by the Ministry of Culture and the SCA to protect and preserve Egypt's cultural and archaeological heritage.
The survey is being conducted in collaboration with a Japanese mission headed by Kosuke Sato of Osaka University and an American mission led by Mark Lehner, director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA).
In contrast to the scanned images produced by the ground fixed laser scanner in the previous season, the Japanese mission improved several aspects for laser scanning the Step Pyramid in order more evenly to dense point cold data, eliminating shadows created by obstacles between the laser scanner and the target as much as possible and providing a density of point clouds finer than 5mm mesh.
The laser scanning survey of the Step Pyramid will take four weeks to complete, and next year the second phase for the pyramid's internal structure will start.