Digital Zapotec Tombs

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Unity Photos – The Start of an Interactive Tomb

Catherine was able to start on working with Unity–a game engine–in the summer of 2014 to make the tomb we had created in Cinema 4D interactive. Time ran out for the team over the summer to explore different avatars and we needed a more powerful computer to put more items we made into the tomb. However, the current area around the tomb was able to be recreated and the project will continue on from here either with someone on the original team or new one.
AbovegroundTombEntranceUnity--Entering Tomb

A comparison of the entrance real tomb (right) and tomb recreated and put into Unity (left). The bottom of the screenshot showing the Unity model also displays the recreated present-day surrounding area near the tomb.  This will appear at the bottom of every screenshot photo in this post.

InsideTombPerspectiveUnity--Inside Tomb

These pictures shows a comparison between our photo of the inside of the tomb (left) and the 3D model recreation (right). In the bottom right corner of the inside of the tomb in the 3D model, one of the objects can be seen placed in the tomb. Object positions are based on where they were found when Alfonso Caso lead the excavation for the tomb.

Tomb 118 - From Back WallUnity--Object on Stairs

The picture on the left shows a photograph the stairs and the entrance. The object from the previous picture from a different angle in the Unity program is on the right. The object is at the bottom of the stairs, just outside the tomb entrance.

Unity--Objects in Tomb

This last screenshot shows objects put into the tomb in Unity at the furthest niche. They objects shown are tripods found in the tomb during Caso’s excavation. There is also a vessel peeking out from inside the niche at the top of the picture.

Tomb 118 – Field Photos

OutsideEntrance (2)

Zapotec tombs at Monte Albán, where many of the elite lived, were built within in the center of their homes. Most of the time, these tombs were sealed except for ceremonial or burial purposes.






Our first day at Monte Albán was on June 29 , 2014 , we stayed for about three hours which included getting the layout of the site and measuring  Tomb 118.  The entry way was a little short, we had to duck to get in; it was about .9 meters high and .4 meters wide. Comparatively, inside the tomb the floor of the tomb was approximately 3.6 meter in length and 1.4 meters wide.  The highest point of the tomb was 1.8 meters.  Therefore, the tomb was high enough to stand up in, which was interesting to all of us (the tallest of us–Catherine, the one in the pinkS0988112 shirt–being 1.7 meters tall). Also, about three of us could stand inside without it being crowded. It was between noon and two in the afternoon, so sunlight that came from the entrance was sufficient.  Also, all of the pictures turned out well without flash.


Below are just a few more photos that show off the size of the tomb, the light, and its entrance.


  EllenOutsideFirstStepTomb 118 - From Back WallEntrance (6)



Artifacts Created in Cinema 4D From Tomb 118

Here are some screenshots of various objects from Tomb 118. They are a mix of Catherine and Ve’Amber’s work in Cinema 4D. These are just a few highlights of over 70 objects we made 3D models of over the summer in 2014. All of these objects are based off of the cards Alfonso Caso and his team made while excavating at Monte Albán. The cards were really helpful and rich in detail, so for many of these we have the color, measurements, and descriptions of each.  A lot of these were really fun to make or interesting items to have found in the tomb, especially the billy club (the 5th picture in the line up).

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