Cross section through the Fatima Khatun Mosque

Cross section through the Fatima Khatun Mosque

FARO helps scan the Fatima Khatun Mosque

Following the proposal from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to scan the Fatima Khatun Mosque in Jenin, FARO not only provided the Ministry with the desired scan data, but also with sections and floor plans

August 2019

As the regional manager for the Middle East and Africa at FARO, a leading 3D scanning company, Sam Husseini has the opportunity to meet people from different industries, companies and institutions. He has visited all the countries of this region, which has such a long eventful history and is full of cultural monuments, some of which are thousands of years old.

Husseini’s job is cut out: he visits customers and demonstrates the advantages of FARO workflows for documentation of existing objects. He shows them how to capture the geometry and appearance of real objects with laser scanners and how to evaluate the data with industry-specific, efficient and seamless workflows. He also demonstrates how to scan archaeological artifacts, historical buildings, roads and infrastructure such as railways and power stations. He even shows how to efficiently create building information modeling (BIM) from 3D scan data of old houses.

He evaluates existing pipe systems of factories or oil refineries directly in planning software such as Autodesk Revit or Plant 3D and explains how to check a fresh casted concrete floor for unevenness on a construction site with the help of laser scanners and a FARO workflow, which is so quick, that the still malleable concrete can be corrected. In short, Husseini travels frequently and is busy with laser scanning most of the time. And what does Husseini do during his rare spare time? Yes, he scans.

“My mission is to document historical important buildings, which tell a tale of the rich history of this region,” said Husseini and added: “A region that generated the first advanced civilisations, scripture and three world religions.”

Registered point cloud of the mosque in Scene

Registered point cloud of the mosque in Scene

“As a Palestinian, I am especially engaged in documenting Palestinian places. I would like to document as many historically valuable places as possible in the best way, which is technically possible today,” he added.

According to Husseini, he has documented over 30 places in his spare time, so far. Among the scanned locations are the Ethiopian Church in Jerusalem and the Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron, Palestine and also such small but beautiful locations as the Hisham Palace –  the main symbol of Jericho, a Palestinian city in the West Bank.

Recently, he got the proposal from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to scan the Fatima Khatun Mosque in Palestine. The Fatima Khatun Mosque or the Great Mosque of Jenin is the main mosque of the Palestinian city of Jenin in the northern West Bank. A ruined mosque dating back to 636 CE, it was renovated during the Mamluk era in the 14th century, but again fell into ruin. The existing structure was founded in 1566 by Fatima Khatun, the wife of Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha, the Bosnian governor of Damascus during the reign of Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

“I was approached by one of the project managers in the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to see if I can scan this mosque, so I did,” Husseini said. The officials knew Husseini and his voluntary work from the past events where he had demonstrated the functionality of the FARO workflows.

So, Husseini travelled to Jenin and stayed there three days to capture the mosque completely with millimeter accuracy. Asked how he prepared the scan project, he said: “To be honest, there was no planning. Just arrived on site and started scanning. As our scanner is so easy to use, I just went to work.”

Top view of the point cloud model

Top view of the point cloud model

To fully capture the mosque, Husseini scanned from approximately 200 positions, with each scan taking about four minutes. Explaining the process, Husseini said that the scans must be aligned against each other and combined into one project. This process, the registration, is traditionally done in the office and takes hours for a project of this size. “With the FARO scan workflow, the registration is done on site parallel to the scanning. In addition to the time saving, this procedure makes it possible to see during scanning what has been captured and what has been missed,” he said.

Husseini scanned the interiors first even as the daily routine work in the mosque continued. The plan was to scan the most visited rooms in the morning before people showed up so as to disturb as little as possible.

“From time to time it was unavoidable that people were scanned. Like all moving objects, they leave fractals in the scans. But our software reliably filters them out,” said Husseini.

After completing the inside scans, Husseini scanned the exterior of the mosque. The roof of the mosque was clearly visible from the rooftops of the adjacent neighbouring houses, making it easy to capture it without using a drone. After the complete capture of the exterior, Husseini merged the interior and exterior views into one project. The scan data itself are ASCII files with coordinates and some other parameters.

With the FARO SCENE software, they can be viewed like a large 3D photo that can be rotated, zoomed in and out, and moved around. With virtual reality (VR) glasses the rooms can be literally experienced. Husseini defined camera paths in SCENE and exported flight videos through the interior and exterior view of the mosque, which he made available on YouTube.

He not only provided the Ministry with the desired scan data, but also with sections and floor plans.

“The Ministry took the data, so they can renovate the mosque. They were so impressed with the data that they are now also analysing the stones in the mosque and their origin from the photos of the scanner,” Husseini said.

The mosque won’t be the last place Husseini will document. “It is a pleasure to scan such amazing places,” he quipped and it sounds like a promise that more places will follow.

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