A redesigned Iron Mountain truck with photo of Rapa Nui statues on the side

Protect and Preserve

Living Legacy: Rapa Nui

Easter Island lies approximately 3,500 km off the Chilean coast, and is home to one most amazing and mysterious feats of mankind: the Moai statues. Carved by the Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500 AD, the monolithic figures have survived natural disasters and human conflict but remain a fragile resource.

In order to ensure the world’s cultural heritage is preserved for generations to come, CyArk worked with Iron Mountain, Crossroads Systems and Spectra Logic to implement a comprehensive data protection, management and archiving solution. The initiative, called Living Legacy, aims to preserve and make accessible cultural and historical information, world artifacts and treasures. Currently, there over 200 digital copies of heritage sites, spanning all seven continents, stored with Iron Mountain.

Rapa Nui statues

CyArk was founded to ensure heritage sites like the Moai of Rapa Nui are available to future generations before they are lost to natural disasters, destroyed by human aggression or ravaged by the passage of time. Since its inception in 2003, the organization has employed laser scanning, high-resolution digital photography and other state-of-the-art technologies to fulfill its mission of preserving humanity’s heritage through the creation of fully rendered, three-dimensional models of these landmarks.

Because original records can be lost to age, weather, or disaster, Iron Mountain is prepared and proud to offer resources and expertise to preserve critically important cultural artifacts, both now and in the future. And while newer, advanced technologies have helped CyArk capture more facets of each site it surveys, handling such a significant – and growing – amount of data put an incredible strain on CyArk’s staff.

Ben Kacyra, who invented the groundbreaking 3D scanning system, explains the detail involved in preserving the world heritage sites. Watch his TED talk, “Ancient wonders captured in 3D” below.

3D imaging of Rapa Nui statues
Mount Rushmore
3D image of Mount Rushmore

Far more detailed than even the best photograph, these models provide incredibly accurate, realistic views of every aspect of a particular site, giving them numerous applications in educational and cultural tourism settings. CyArk’s model of Mt. Rushmore, for example, allows viewers to see the individual chisel marks on Teddy Roosevelt’s mustache.

Bouncing laser light off the surfaces, 3D scanners measure millions of points a second, accurate to a few millimeters to create a 3D data set, or point cloud. Colors represent the intensity of reflection from the surface.

Individual data points are joined together via small triangles, connecting each of the dots and forming a wireframe. These triangles are used to form a solid surface from the points, which creates a solid 3D model. The 3D model generated from the point cloud is then colored using photographs taken of the surface of the structure. The result is a photo-real 3D model which can be used to further study the monument and used for conservation and education.

Mount Rushmore 3D mapped
A redesigned Iron Mountain truck with photo of Rapa Nui statues on the side

This challenge of coping with rapid, unyielding data growth, coupled with an initiative to digitally preserve 500 sites over the next five years – known as the “CyArk 500 Challenge” – prompted the organization to look for a new way to manage its data. CyArk needed a solution that promised to easily scale over time, effectively protect data and provide the efficiencies it needed to focus more time and energy on fulfilling its mission. To bring these goals to life, CyArk partnered with Iron Mountain to create a comprehensive data protection, management and archiving project.

Learn more about the innovative technologies and services from Iron Mountain, Crossroads Systems and Spectra Logic.