Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) won the bid to provide precise survey, mapping and GIS equipment and software for a project to preserve and renovate the historic landmark of Pompeii. Located near present-day Naples, Pompeii was partially destroyed and buried under 10 to 20 feet of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, AD 79. The city was lost for nearly 1,700 years before it was rediscovered in 1748.
Old Pompeii, one of Italy’s major tourist attractions with 25,000 visitors a day, was literally “falling apart” after 2011’s record rainfall, according to one report. The Italian government, through the University of Naples and the City of Pompeii, allocated 120 million Euros (just over $156 million) to the preservation of the old city.
Topcon’s three-year contract is with Benecon Consortium Society, a combination of four universities – Second University of Naples, University Federico II, University of Salerno and the University of Sannio.
Also involved in the project is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which designated Pompeii as a World Heritage Site. Topcon’s Italian distributor – GEOTOP Topcon – and its president and CEO, Ivan Di Federico, will work directly with the government officials and the four universities.
Before restoration on the city could begin, site mapping and precise information about ground and building movements had to be done. That’s where TPS came into play.
"It is a very high honor, indeed, to be recognized by the mayor of Pompeii and the prestigious University of Naples," said Topcon President and CEO, Ray O’Connor. "However, it is a much higher honor to be part of an incredible cooperative undertaking like working together to preserve one of the world’s most important and impressive historical sites. It is rewarding to know that today’s technology is being used to preserve the past so future generations can observe and learn about one of the world’s most important and impressive events.”
“The archaeological site will become a ‘laboratory of innovation,'”Di Federico said. The first project objective is “the creation of a 3D mapping system. Survey teams will recreate the site in a virtual form with great precision by overlaying images and laser scans to precisely measure the distance between each point, thus creating the old city in 3D imagery.”
This reality technology, Di Federico said, “will allow for visitors to see themselves in the original environment, as if they were Roman citizens of Pompeii before the devastating volcano explosion.”
Additionally, Benecon will “have a cultural database, which combines background information - historical, natural and chemical - to add to the wealth of information that presently exists about the city and its history.”
As the first archaeological site in the world to use technology in this fashion, Di Federico said, “This project will be a top priority for Topcon and will include collaboration with Topcon technology groups in Livermore, California, Europe and Japan.”
Topcon equipment being used on the site includes the IP-S2 mobile mapping system, IS imaging station, NET-G3A reference station receivers, GR-5 receivers, Tesla controller for field applications, GLS-1500 laser scanners, antennas and software. The contract also allows for technical assistance and professional expertise provided by the company.