High precision laser scanning assisting in the service of historical and art historical research. The burial monument of Queen Gertrude (13th century)

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Beatrix Szabó
József Laszlovszky
András Fehér
Gábor Bödő
Gyula Dabrónaki
Konsztantinosz Hadzijanisz
Réka Lovas
László Pipis
Dóra Surina
Barnabás Vári


One of the most important and controversial burial sites of medieval Hungary is the grave of Queen Gertrude of Meran with its decorated burial monument at the Cistercian Abbey of Pilis. The circumstances of the assassination of the queen is a highly debated event in Hungarian history described in a large number of local and foreign contemporary documents. Archaeological excavations have revealed the fragments of her burial monument with high artistic qualities (human figures, architectural elements, inscriptions, decorated patterns). Over the last three decades, art historical research has discussed the foreign artistic influences of the monument and proposed several reconstructions based on the drawings and photos of the excavated fragments. A full-size sculpted model has also been created on the basis of one of these hypothetical reconstructions.

This paper will present the results of a new research project to create the first virtual reconstruction of the burial monument. The fragments of the monument and its previously sculpted physical model were captured by a terrestrial laser scanner and an optical 3D scanner, and consequently, point clouds and meshes were created. Using high-resolution data in CAD environment, a 3D virtual reconstruction model was built showing a possible form of the burial monument. In order to offer a new virtual reconstruction for different research approaches (art historical studies, archaeological interpretations and comparative studies with other monuments) a complex method was required to handle the huge amount of digital data. A database was built from the scanned fragments enabling to manage them easily. High precision 3D models of the fragments allowed to capture their precise geometry and perform the metrical analysis of the fragments, which may provide a basis for alternative reconstruction attempts. By using 3D technology, the results and conclusions derived from the fragments have been made more accessible than through traditional methods. Thus, scholars can use spectacular 3D visualizations in their research and examine many properties of the artifacts. The results are also available for a wider audience, as it has been demonstrated in an exhibition to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the death of Queen Gertrude. The paper demonstrates some of the advantages that 3D technology provides for scholarly research over conventional methods and introduces a method for integrated archaeological, historical and art historical examinations using state of the art technologies.

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How to Cite
Szabó, B., Laszlovszky, J., Fehér, A., Bödő, G., Dabrónaki, G., Hadzijanisz, K., Lovas, R., Pipis, L., Surina, D., & Vári, B. (2017). High precision laser scanning assisting in the service of historical and art historical research. The burial monument of Queen Gertrude (13th century). Studies in Digital Heritage, 1(2), 501-517. https://doi.org/10.14434/sdh.v1i2.23420
Special Issue "Cultural Heritage and New Technologies 2016"