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A bird's eye view on Switzerland in the 18th century: 3D recording and analysis of a historical relief model

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Abstract

The relief of Franz Ludwig Pfyffer, constructed between 1762 and 1786, is considered the world's oldest large landscape model and a pioneering work of Swiss cartography. Based on Pfyffer's own measurements, the 6.6 x 3.9 m 2 big masterpiece represents a fascinating bird's eye view of the Alps. The relief is not only an extraordinary topographic but also a cultural achievement: It has once been an attraction for numerous representatives of European social and scientific life. This paper reports about the procedures for the digital recording and quantitative evaluation of the Pfyffer's relief, which are part of a broad interdisciplinary research. For the first time, the results of the photogrammetric 3D reconstruction and accuracy analysis of the whole object are presented. The DTM, the orthoimage and the complete vector data set were archived for the documentation of the cultural heritage. For the reason of project publicity, the derivation of high quality visualization products such as flyovers and interactive models was an important issue, too. In the second part the paper describes methods for the comparison of the virtual historical model with current map information. The procedures are based on a 9-parameter transformation of identical points between two three-dimensional datasets. In particular, a new procedure for the transformation of historical height and image data has been developed and evaluated. Furthermore, a novel method for analysis of the lake contours accuracy in the old relief or in the old map respectively is suggested. The procedures enable visualization of relief distortions (including a distortion grid), overlays with current vector data as well as direct comparison of the digital terrain models. The results of the analysis bring new surprising information concerning geometric accuracy, metric parameters and building strategy of the Pfyffer's relief.

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Digital Earth essentially consists of 3D and moreD models and attached semantic information (attributes). Techniques for generating such models efficiently are required very urgently. Reality-based 3D modelling using images as prime data source plays an important role in this context. Images contain a wealth of information that can be advantageously used for model generation. Images are increasingly available from satellite, aerial and terrestrial platforms. This contribution briefly describes some of the problems which we encounter if the process of model generation is to be automatised. With the help of some examples from Digital Terrain Model generation, Cultural Heritage and 3D city modelling we show briefly what can be achieved. Special attention is directed towards the use of model helicopters for image data acquisition. Some problems with interactive visualisation are discussed. Also, issues surrounding R&D, profes-sional practice and education are also addressed.
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The relief of Franz Ludwig Pfyffer, constructed between 1762 and 1786, is considered the world's oldest large landscape model and a pioneering work of Swiss cartography. Based on Pfyffer's own measurements, the 26 m 2 big work represents topographically an area of almost 4100 km 2 . The relief, which served as a basis for several printed maps issued at the end of the 18th century, is now a subject of the first quantitative evaluation. Applying principles of aerial photogrammetry, a precise 3D model of Pfyffer's relief is created for the documentation of cultural heritage. As a main research aim, methods for the comparison of the virtual model with current map information are implemented: planar and spatial transformations of identical points and an analysis of digital surface models. In particular, a new procedure for the transformation of historical height and image data has been developed and evaluated. Suggested approaches consider object distortions in all three directions and allow making statements about relief accuracy as well as reconstructing Pfyffer's model building strategy.
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