Going Digital with Heritage

Updated: Mar 23

As in every other aspect of modern life, digital technology has transformed the tools available to the archaeologist. EMOWAA, together with its partners are harnessing these tools at every stage of the investigative process: from mapping historic sites digitally to using to ground penetrating sensing and creating 3D virtual images of objects and historic structures.


Drone survey imagery of the eastern edge of the outer moat structure. Copyright: Edo Museum of West African Art, 2022


Satellite / Aerial Imagery

Analysis of existing satellite imagery has been useful for mapping the extent and condition of the Benin moats, as well as acquiring an understanding of the wider terrain around Benin City. Aerial photographic surveys of the city acquired by Edo State government are being used to create 3D models of the city and moats.


Drone Surveys

Along with these existing sources of aerial imagery, EMOWAA has undertaken targeted drone surveys of the city’s famous system of moats, as well as of the former palace area, where Benin’s 21st century Creative District is unfolding. These have been used to create 3D models which provide new insights into the extent, form and condition of the moats – a unique urbanism feature emblematic of ancient Benin. The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) have also provided the project with a Lidar drone, which will be used to document and investigate the moats in the tropical forests outside the area of the modern city.


Geographical Studies

By detecting variations in the physical properties of materials underground, geophysical survey allows scholars to study buried structures. EMOWAA archaeologists are using Ground Penetrating Radar and magnetometry to identify archaeological remains in Benin City.


3D Photogrammetry

The DAI team have used photogrammetry to create a high-resolution 3D model of the Ogiamien House – home of the Ogiamien chiefs and the oldest building in Benin City. This provides a permanent virtual record of one of the most important buildings in the city and will be a critical tool in any future restoration of the building.


Learn more on EMOWAA’s Digital Lab



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