Creating the Longmen Grottoes Image Database

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been developing various support activities and joint research since 2001 to protect the Longmen Grottoes, a world heritage site located in the Luoyang City of Henan Province, China. From 2002 to 2007, together with the Photographing Room of the Department of Research Programming, we used digital cameras which are showing significant development in recent years to advance our study of the collection of experimental image data, and to build up a control system for the three caves of Longmen Grottoes: Lord Huangfu Caves (first half of the sixth century C.E.), Lotus-flower Cave (first half of the sixth century C.E.), and Jing shan si dong (latter half of the seventh century C.E.). The results were compiled in one report titled ‘World Heritage Longmen Grottoes – Japan-China Joint Photographing Project Report (Image Catalog)’ created in March 2003. However, the number of printed copies of this report is limited, so it has not been seen by many people, and the printed matter could not fully demonstrate the effect of the digital images. The fundamental assignment for cultural heritage conservation activities is how to enhance the openness of the various types of data collected by investigative research. Therefore, we decided first to build the control system as a theme, and the staff repeated trial and error for the method for containing data from the investigation. This was done simultaneously with photographing and making use of digital images, resulting in the completion of the Japanese edition of the database and starting of publicity for the Institute’s library. It is expected that using this database will further advance research on the above three caves. We also have high hopes that the method established here can be adapted to a database for other types of cultural heritage. A complete Chinese edition will be provided to the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute, our joint research partner.

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