Buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. and rediscovered in the 17th century, the ancient city of Pompeii is a unique illustration of the urban architecture and domestic art of the Roman period. The ancient paintings and mosaics of the Roman city have recently suffered various types of damage. A number of incidents occurred between 2010 and 2012, and several ancient walls collapsed in March 2014. The state of the archaeological site, which has also suffered numerous thefts, is today considered to be extremely worrying despite the implementation of a rescue plan in October 2011.
In summer 2014, in partnership with Microsoft Research and the INRIA, Iconem carried out the first complete modelling of the famous site. Every morning before the site was opened to the public, the company flew its drones above the ancient city. Until now, the scale and complexity of the site – which extends over an area of 44 hectares – had made it impossible to construct a complete map of the site that could be contained in a single document. The 3D model produced by Iconem, on the basis of 20,000 photographs combined with powerful photogrammetric calculations, is thus a world first. It presents every aspect of the entire site, enabling scientists to navigate between macro and micro detail level. Also integrated into the model are many archive images such as early photographs and archaeologists’ sketches, which can be viewed superimposed directly over the 3D image. The system makes it possible to examine the development of the site from the start of the excavations in the early 18th century onwards, and to analyse the recent deteriorations.