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First laser images of Imperial tombs revealed

The first laser-scanned images of the final resting place of some of China's best-known emperors have been revealed.

Scottish experts scanned the images of the Eastern Qing Tombs as part of the Scottish Ten project, organised by Historic Scotland, Glasgow School of Art's Digital Design Studio and international non-profit organisation CyArk

The Eastern Qing Tombs – in use from 1666 to 1911 –are the Imperial tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and were designated as a World Heritage Site in 2000, with Unesco describing the site as a "masterpiece of human creative genius".

First Minister Alex Salmond visited the landmark before the Scottish Ten team began its four-week project. It focused on the site's most elaborate tomb, belonging to Xiao Ling, and also recorded the tomb of Emperor Kangxi.

The scanning system uses lasers and photography to create a detailed model which is then processed at Glasgow School of Art's Digital Design Studio and Historic Scotland.

The image can then reveal construction methods and help decipher inscriptions as well as creating accurate records.

The advanced laser technology employed on the Scottish Ten has already captured sites on St Kilda and Neolithic Orkney, Rani Ki Vav in India and Mount Rushmore in the US.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "It is fascinating to see these first images from the laser scanning of the Eastern Qing Tombs. They clearly demonstrate the intricate workmanship that went into creating this incredible complex of buildings.

"The Scottish Ten will create 3D digital models of our five Scottish World Heritage Sites and five international sites.

"As well as the technical data and imagery that is being produced, the ongoing international partnerships we are building give us new opportunities to deepen Scotland's cultural ties with China, one of the key aims of our new China Strategy."

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