3D documentation of the prophet Nahum’s shrine in Iraq

The shrine of the biblical prophet Nahum is an outstanding monument representing the roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The shrine is located in a small Christian town Alqosh, about 45 kilometers from the town of Mosul in northern Iraq. 

The structure dates back to the 12th century and used to serve as a synagogue for a very long time. It is generally believed that the prophet Nahum is buried here, however, many experts question this assumption. 

The structure itself had been in a very bad condition for many years, both walls and vaults had partially collapsed, and a total collapse was imminent. The foundation Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ARCH) called for a project which was implemented by a Czech restoration company GemaArt which deals with reconstructions of historical buildings and monuments in the Czech Republic and in the whole world in cooperation with the Faculty of Civil Engineering of CTU in Prague. 

First works started in January 2018. The basis of this project was the documentation of the original state of the shrine; the manner of conducting the research, data evaluation and photogrammetric documentation was prepared and a 3D model of the whole shrine was created. The next step was to remove the debris and stabilize the structure, after which the second phase of documentation took place together with a virtual reconstruction of the collapsed parts. After this, the reconstruction of the structure took place. The last stage, so far postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is handing in of the reconstructed shrine for use and its final documentation. 

Thanks to a great hardware and software advancement it is now possible to walk through the object in virtual world in a very good quality. Experts can watch the state of the whole reconstruction without the need of visiting the structure in Iraq. The 3D model was created by prof. Karel Pavelka from the Department of Geomatics at the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Prague, as a part of the project of the documentation of historic monuments and their visualization into the shape of a virtual museum.