Behind the scenes of a preservation operation

Iconem is an innovative startup that pioneers technological solutions to digitize our world’s architectural and archaeological heritage using 3D technologies.

Philippe Barthélémy, co-fondateur d'IconemRmn-Grand Palais

Preserving Human Heritage Using Digital Technologies

At the crossroads of groundbreaking research in informatics and aerospace engineering, architectural survey and archaeology, Iconem gathers highly-skilled professionals from diverse yet complementary backgrounds working together towards a common objective: to design new tools to explore and analyze our world’s cultural heritage.

Yves Ubelmann, co-fondateur d'Iconem, Iconem, From the collection of: Rmn-Grand Palais
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A vision

The digital era has opened up innovative ways to explore our world’s cultural heritage, as well as preserve our collective memory. Through the optimization of new 3D scanning techniques, data processing methods and 3D display technologies, we envision continuous innovation in the way we archive, survey and broadcast our history, and architectural, and archaeological heritage.

Sites Éternels. L'équipe Iconem dirigeant un drone. (2015-10-12) by Photo IconemRmn-Grand Palais

A mission

Using new 3D scanning techniques, Iconem will make accurate digital 3D copies of physical
environments. Through our photorealistic 3D models, which are both geometrically accurate and visually similar to the real sites, we will continue to innovate in terms of:
- Archiving: all the relevant information about a monument can now be displayed in a 3D virtual space
- Survey: a 3D model can generate a wide array of cartographies
- Information dissemination: through the creation of online interfaces that allow virtual visits.

L'équipe d'Iconem sur le terrain (Irak - Kurdistan)Rmn-Grand Palais

A unique technology of preservation

Iconem has developed its own technology combining new acquisition techniques, through the use of drones and UAV, and new artificial vision tools that can build 3D models from digital pictures (notably with the research centre Inria).

Yves Ubelmann et Philippe Barthélémy, co-fondateurs d'IconemRmn-Grand Palais

This protocol is extremely efficient and is particularly suited to the digitization of wide areas. It also delivers highly qualitative results, which surpass all other currently available solutions, and allows for digitization at larger and unprecedented spatial scales.

For instance, in 2014, Iconem digitized the entire Pompeii site, in partnership with French research centers Inria and ENS, Microsoft Research, and Soprintendenza di Pompeii.

Visuel de l'affiche de l'exposition "Sites Éternels", au Grand Palais du 14 décembre 2016 au 9 janvier 2017 (2016) by Photo et graphisme Iconem & DGAMRmn-Grand Palais

Archive a World Heritage in danger

Working in more than 10 countries, both for international organizations, such as UNESCO and the World Bank, and for governments, such as the Sultanate of Oman, Iconem provides new solutions to archive endangered heritage sites, to conduct scientific surveys of archaeological sites and broadcast cultural contents in virtual environments.

Sites éternels. Site archéologique de Khorsabad aujourdhui avec superposition du plan. (2016) by IconemRmn-Grand Palais


Inspection and Assessment of Looting in an Iraqi Territory Occupied by ISIS.

Modelisation 3D du Krak des Chevaliers (2016) by Iconem & DGAMOriginal Source: Site Internet Iconem


Digital Reconstruction of a Citadel Afflicted by the Syrian Conflict.

Sites éternels. Temple de Bêl reconstitué (2016-04)Rmn-Grand Palais


A Precise Digital Survey After ISIS’ Departure.

Restitution 3D de la cour de la Grande Mosquée des Omeyyades (2016) by Iconem & DGAMRmn-Grand Palais


Digitalization of one of the most Beautiful Mosques in Syria.

Sites éternels / making-of Iconem by © Iconem 2016Original Source: Iconem

Ces images ont été tournées par Iconem sur plusieurs territoires et grâce au soutien des gouvernements suivants:

Le Gouvernement d’Irak (La Grande Mosquée de Samarra),

Le Gouvernement régional du Kurdistan (Khorsabad et la ligne de front),

La Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées de Syrie (DGAM) (Palmyre),

L’ Afghan Institute of Archaeology et la Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan (Mes Aynak).

© Iconem 2016

Credits: Story

We would like to thank all the people who have contributed to the construction of this journey through the "Eternal Sites" and those who have given us valuable time and information as well as permission to reproduce their documentation.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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