Heritage Crowd Sourcing & Public Archeology

World Heritage (UNESCO 2019)

The shift from Web1.0 which was a centralized internet controlled by a few to Web2.0 which is accessible for anyone anywhere to use and contribute to the world wide web opened the doors to various types of participatory projects in different fields. The idea of getting thousands of people to participate in a certain project or in a certain cause is hard yet interesting. It’s been found helpful in various research projects where researchers ask the public for help to collect or annotate, share…etc. certain data that they could have never done on their own.

I had been introduced to the idea of “the public participation” or “participatory design” in the architectural and urban design fields through which before conducting any renovation or upgrading in a specific built environments, various surveys and questionnaires are done with the residents and the stakeholders to insure that the projects constructed matches people’s actual needs the thing that ensures the success of major construction and renovation projects. However, the concept of heritage crowd sourcing or participatory design in the cultural heritage field is completely new to me.

Heritage Together is a research project that uses crowd-sourced digital photographs captured by volunteering community members to produce 3D models of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains from our study area of Gwynedd and Anglesey, UK. (Grifffiths et al. 2015).

A 3D models produced using structure-for-motion techniques, and data co-produced by citizen scientists working with Heritage Together. The top image is a photograph of Presaddfed burial chamber, while the bottom is an image of a 3D model of the same site, produced from photos contributed by citizen scientists (Grifffiths et al. 2015)

What I found interesting in this project is the organizers’ insistence on engaging the public with the archeological sites through various fun activities and not only use them to harness the images or create the 3d models, which is really smart actually, it’s encouraged more people to participate from different age groups in the project. And I guess people will actually become more excited and consistent in taking part in this project.

A Composite picture of forms of public archaeology undertaken for Heritage Together. (Grifffiths et al. 2015)

Crowd sourcing definitely makes cultural heritage and archeological preservation easier and I believe that it’s necessary to have a digital copy of the cultural heritage worldwide because this won’t only facilitate its preservation but will also open the doors for their re-usage in various applications in different fields for instance I have tried to explore 3d GIS plugin in blender 3d modeling software that takes 3d data (models) from google maps 3d and enables its manipulation in blender, I wanted to try see the potential of its implementation in game design, however unfortunately there were not enough digital 3d data about Egyptian buildings and Heritage. I wanted to use the data of “The Baron Palace in Egypt” but in google earth 3d it only appeared in 2d despite the fact that there are a lot of photosphere images of it.

An image of The Baron Place in Egypt (Google maps, 2022)

However when I searched for places like the Big Ben in London for instance, I was able to see the whole terrain in 3d Maybe there should be a crowdsourcing project that collects images of famous buildings in Egypt and using photogrammetry the images are used to create the 3d structures that then can be used in google 3d. Below is a comparison between the 3d views in Cairo & London around a place of cultural heritage and importance.

An image of the 3d view in Google maps around the Baron Palace in Egypt ( Google maps, 2022)
An image of the 3d view in Google maps around the Big Ben in London ( Google maps, 2022)

I believe that the idea of “missing data” is interesting in some countries and that we need to consider Digital images harnessing and collaborative 3dmodelling and sharing to preserve what we have at the moment and explore their future potential to the maximum.


Grifffiths, Seren, Ben Edwards, Raimund Karl, Fred Labrosse, Helen Miles, Katharina Moeller, Jonathan Roberts, Bernie Tiddeman, and Andrew Wilson. 2015. “Crowd-Sourcing Archaeological Research: HeritageTogether Digital Public Archaeology in Practice.” Internet Archaeology, no. 40. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.40.7.3.

UNESCO. 2019. “World Heritage.” Unesco.org. 2019. https://whc.unesco.org/en/about/.