Digital Advances: Temple of Dendur

As many of you know, digital art is progressing as technology is advancing. One interesting topic I found online was that, in the MET, the Temple of Dendur was digitally restored to show it’s original coloring. It was done through the process of projection mapping, which can “turn physical objects and buildings into a surface for projected light.” This was done by Matt Felsen, Erin Peters, and Maria Paula Saba.

The Temple of Dendur is dated within the Roman era, with the reign of Augustus Caesar. It was originally in Egypt on the south of Aswan. Because of it’s location, however, there were many floods which were almost reaching the Temple. After some time, the Temple was given to the U.S in 1965, and then given to the MET which had it installed in 1978.

Photo by George Gerster

This is where the Temple of Dendur was originally located

To begin the process of digital restoration, the group had to figure out what area they wanted to restore. They soon picked the south wall:

Scene on the south wall, Temple of Dendur

The authors looked for visible color and they used VIL imaging to see if they could find color. Since the Temple did not show signs of color, some of the restoration was guesswork based on references from other sources. They then turned to a 1906 survey in which Aylward M. Blackman “recorded some of the visible paint in various scenes on the Temple’s interior walls… Although no paint was recorded anywhere on the exterior, the information on the interior provided a good starting point for the colors of our scene.” Afterwards, they looked at survey reports on other temples, mostly the Description de l’Egypteand they looked through the MET collection (colored column & Seth Slaying a Serpent from the Temple of Amun at Hibis).

Next, they took photos of the wall and “create[ed] a type of image that [they] could use to easily switch the colors of different parts of the scene.” Once they began to make the outline of the figures, they knew some features were gone due to erosion. They referenced to old works from past scholars on what the Temple should look like, and then they combined those with the current outline of the Temple.

Process of vectorizing wall

Afterwards, they began to fill in the work.

Final Result

Not only did the group create a colored image but they also recreate the digital scene. This scene is meant to be the Emperor Caeser Augustus (who is a Pharaoh here) giving wine to the deities Hathor (goddess of joy, music, and love) and Horus (one of the most important Egypt deities – he was the first god for the Egpytians).


“In the scene on the Temple, Emperor Caeser Augustus, depicted as Pharaoh, arrives and offers wine to the deities Hathor and Horus, so we created an animated version of this. In the original scene, the glyphs represent the dialogue between the emperor and the deities, so we highlighted the glyphs and made them larger. We also used the animation to explain how seemingly flat figures in Egyptian art actually represent 3D scenes, like in the case shown below, where Hathor seems to be behind Horus, but in reality they were side by side.”

All quotes and images are from

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