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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday June 10, 2024

Updated on Monday June 10, 2024

portrait of Zachos Polyviou

Zachos Polyviou

Head of Digital Culture & New Technologies Unit , Deputy Ministry of Culture, Republic of Cyprus

Cyprus shares their Twin it! 3D for Europe’s culture story

The Twin it! campaign invited EU Member States to submit at least one 3D digitised heritage asset to the common European data space for cultural heritage, and Member States rose to this challenge. Colleagues from Cyprus share insights into their multiple submitted assets, which include the Castle of Paphos, the archaeological site Khirokitia Vouni and the Lambousa fishing boat.

Twin it! campaign imagery showing a windmill
Twin it! logo. A composition of Windmolen van Elene by FrDr, CC BY-SA 4.0 and Elene windmill by visualdimension, CC BY-NC-ND
Ana Moreno
Europeana Foundation

Insights from Cyprus: the selection process

The Twin It! 3D for Europe’s Culture campaign has been an amazing experience for us at the Deputy Ministry of Culture in Cyprus. To select our assets, we published a press release about Twin It! which received numerous responses from institutions expressing their interest in this remarkable initiative.

A few weeks later, we reviewed their proposed objects. Each one had its place in history and with 3D digitisation technology, we were able to experience a multidimensional view of its heritage. The objects submitted were in line with the criteria for 3D digitisation outlined in the European Commission 2021 Recommendation on a common European data space for cultural heritage, with particular emphasis on objects at risk.

After our assessment process, we decided to submit the Castle of Paphos, the archaeological site Khirokitia Vouni and the Lambousa fishing boat to Twin it!. These were submitted by three different Institutions: the Department of Antiquities of the Deputy Ministry of Culture; the Cyprus University of Technology, which hosts the UNESCO Chair on Digital Cultural Heritage; and the Cyprus Institute. Their knowledge and expertise resulted in Cyprus’ contributions, and the Deputy Ministry of Culture can only count on their support as we march ahead for more 3D submissions.

Historic assets and rich heritage

The castle of Paphos is a UNESCO World Heritage List monument dating from the mid-13th Century AD. Today, the castle’s form is the result of various reconstructions over the years, each representing the most important phases of the island’s history from the mediaeval period onwards (Frankish, Venetian, Ottoman). Through the ages, the castle was used as a fortress to control the gateway of the port and provide defence against hostile troops. It has been exposed to all kinds of risks, both human and natural; its location next to the sea plays a critical role in the deteriorating condition of the fort.

Following its integration into the jurisdiction of the Department of Antiquities in 1935, the fort underwent conservation and restoration, giving the castle its current appearance as a distinctive, grand and symbolic building for the town, and a reminder of its great past. The 3D digitisation of the castle took place under the DIGIARC project (Interreg VA Greece-Cyprus 2014-2020).

Khirokitia Vouni, a Neolithic settlement dating from the 7th millenium BCE, is also a historical UNESCO site and one of the most impressive examples of early permanent population settlement on the island. The construction of its walls presupposes a collective effort, which in turn implies an attempt for the creation of a community.

The site has been exposed to many natural hazards and catastrophic events, but its historical significance makes it crucial to maintain a record of its format, which can now be visualised in an interactive 3D model created using Aerial Photography data. The 3D digitisation was conducted under the ‘Endangered architectural and Archaeological Heritage in the south Eastern MEediterRAnea area’ (EpHEMERA) project, with the support of APAC Laboratories and the coordination of the Cyprus Institute.

Last but not least, we selected the Lambousa fishing boat. Built in Greece in 1955 and arriving in Cyprus in 1965, Lambousa is considered a unique historical fishing boat of modern Cypriot culture, and is one of the last traditional fishing boats in Cyprus. Its type is no longer built either in Cyprus or Greece. It is a representative example of the Greek shipbuilding tradition and a real jewel of maritime history.

With the support of European funding, the boat was restored to its original state and used for visits to inform the public about fishing, maritime history, and traditions of Cyprus. Its restoration was an important milestone in the field of digital cultural heritage, particularly because of recent European Regulations which indicate that certain fishing boats should now be destroyed for environmental reasons. Lambousa was chosen as a case study in the MNEMOSYNE project as the oldest existing fishing boat on the island and a landmark in Cyprus’ contemporary history. 

Explore the assets through the video below!

Towards the future of 3D digitisation

At the Twin it! high-level event held on 14 May in Brussels, under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Deputy Minister of Culture of Cyprus Vasiliki Kassianidou presented these historic assets. She praised Twin it! as, ‘A great example of how Member States can work together to create a momentum for the digitisation, protection and preservation of our common European culture’, and included an inspiring call that looks to the future of 3D digitisation in Europe: ‘Let’s all make sure that this amazing new world of 3D technology will continue to be applied as a tool for the preservation and promotion of Europe’s cultural heritage.’

Vasiliki Kassianidou, Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Cyprus at the High-level event of the Twin it! 3D for Europe s culture campaign
Vasiliki Kassianidou, Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Cyprus at the High-level event of the Twin it! 3D for Europe s culture campaign
14 May 2024
Europeana Foundation
The Netherlands
Vasiliki Kassianidou, Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Cyprus at the High-level event of the Twin it! 3D for Europe s culture campaign