Underwater Archaeology Research Centre

Preservation of Egyptian maritime archaeological sites through 3D digital modelling and Virtual Reality presentation

PiP team meeting
The Presence in the Past project team at their kick off meeting in Nottingham 

This project, building on existing collaborations between The University of Nottingham, Ain Shams and Alexandria Universities, will digitally record a range of Egyptian maritime sites, construct accurate photo-realistic 3D visualisations, and then make them available online as part of a virtual maritime research centre for a worldwide research community.

Project overview

It is Egypt's cultural heritage accumulated over thousands of years that gives Egypt its identity and prestige. However, only a small proportion of this resource is known to the world and major milestones in human heritage are still hidden underwater or are inaccessible to human exploration.

Preservation of these hidden treasures using state-of-the-art methods in 3D digital capture and interactive visualisation will move them "into the laboratory", allowing a larger number of scientists and students from a variety of disciplines to be involved in innovative scientific exploration, eventually leading to more discoveries and global awareness of human heritage that can be transferred to next generations.

With increased attention to these Egyptian treasures more social and economic collaboration is expected along with a boost to tourism, which represents 11.3% of Egypt's national income, and a direct effect on employment. Egyptian research labs and museums will continue to be an important destination for tourists and scholars worldwide. The natural link that exists between cultural heritage tourism and regional development will make this a significant contribution to the economic welfare of Egypt.

Building on existing collaboration between The University of Nottingham, Ain Shams and Alexandria University, developing archaeology courses with 3D models of heritage sites, this project extends the partnership to establish a stereoscopic 3D virtual reality-based research laboratory that includes specialist expertise in maritime archaeological scanning.

The biggest challenges in this type of cultural heritage preservation are accurate data capture and reduction of this data into a manageable format for online visualisation and interactive exploration. Through collaborative research, we expect this project to enhance the capability in the Egyptian partner sites for the 3D capture of maritime sites to be used in higher education archaeology teaching and research.

The Virtual Lab at Ain Shams University

Project team

  • Dr Jon Henderson (University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Wael Akl (Ain Shams University)
  • Dr Emad Kahlil (Alexandria University)
  • Dr Sue Cobb (University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Richard Eastgate (University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Tamar Elnady (Ain Shams University)


Underwater Archaeology Research Centre

The University of Nottingham
School of Humanities
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4842