Seagate is applying its advanced storage solutions into digital protection including prophase collection, image processing, virtual roaming and database storage, restoring and preserving Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes for later generations.

Seagate helps preserve heritage through digitisation technology

Seagate Technology recently launched the Dunhuang Grottoes Digitalisation Protection Programme, together with the Dunhuang Research Institute and China Dunhuang Grottoes Conservation Research Foundation.

The project is a comprehensive digital preservation initiative for protecting and promoting the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, a world cultural heritage site located in Gansu province in Western China.

The programme is being run in partnership with the Dunhuang Research Institute and the China Dunhuang Grottoes Conservation Research Foundation.

Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, comprises a system of 492 temples and caves containing some of the finest examples of Buddhist art in China, including 735 surviving caves, 45,000sqm of murals and 2,415 coloured clay sculptures.

The first caves were dug out in AD 366 as places of Buddhist meditation and worship, and formed one of the three famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites in China. The caves are located 25km south-east of the centre of Dunhuang, strategically located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the ancient Silk Road trade route.

However, with the passing of time, many of the historical and cultural relics within the grottoes have become damaged, and some elements lost. Additionally, being made of clay, wood, straw and other fragile materials, the coloured clay sculptures and murals have gradually deteriorated. In recent years, mass tourism has also had an impact.

“The increase in tourist numbers to the Mogao Grottoes has also resulted in a certain degree of harm,” said Wang Xudong, director of Dunhuang Research Institute.

“Carbon dioxide exhaled from the visitors builds up in the caves, resulting in an increase in temperature and humidity, which further degrades the murals and coloured clay sculptures.”

To help preserve the grottoes, a new approach was sought, utilising the latest technology which could also be used for educational purposes and for reaching a broader audience.

The programme aims to digitally map the cave system and murals, and make them available online in 3D.

This initiative, said Seagate, is a good example of data application in a cultural context.  The data collected from Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes can be utilised in tourism and mass education as well as important data for research.

The programme also aims to protect the grottoes and murals so that they can be preserved permanently intact. Seagate said the project fully demonstrates the role of technology in the protection of cultural heritage. The charm and fascination of the ancient Dunhuang can be vividly reproduced with the digital technology.

Seagate is applying its advanced storage solutions into digital protection including prophase collection, image processing, virtual roaming and database storage, restoring and preserving Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes for later generations.

“Dunhuang Grottoes Digitalisation Protection Programme is another innovative community project by Seagate,” said Sandy Sun, vice-president and general manager for Asia-Pacific and China Sales, Seagate.

“The power and value of data is infinite. With the digital protection and storage of precious data, we hope that not only our generation can enjoy the splendid Dunhuang culture, but it can also be handed down to later generations.”

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