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The question of the bridge is closely related to the Rhône River. That is why this project of digitalization and 3D modelling of the building itself, and of its accesses, aims at contributing to revisit a site of first importance. The works include the virtual restoration of this passby between the two embankments of the Rhone, which was for a long time the only passby over the river between Lyon or Vienna and the sea, after the disappearance of the Roman bridge of Arles.

One of the purposes of the operation consists in the restoration of the work of engineering, and this is closely related to the river landscape changes over the last millenium. Therefore, the project will have an important geoarchaeological background. Geomorphological and palaeoenvironmental studies will be combined with the most recent and accurate digital techniques of simulation, using also the Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the study area will approximately cover an area of 50 km2 and will be derived from precise data delivered by the Institut Géographique National (IGN). In addition, aerial surveys at low altitude (below 50 above the ground) will complete the DEM.

The digitalization and the on-line accessibility of the cultural contents are essential in the conservation and in the valuation of the heritage. The project of digitalization and restoration of the bridge of Avignon, this includes also the River landscape evolution, answers to the two concerns. In order to share the history and the memory of the Rhône, it is of high interest to better understand the phases of construction/collapse of the bridge. This includes to recover the precise direction of the building and to reconstruct the river dynamics -with a focus ont the lateral migration of the River bed- which largely influenced the existence/partial destruction of the bridge.

Programme for the forthcoming years (2011-2013) supported by Agence Nationale de la Recherche

The Saint-Bénézet bridge at Avignon : archaeology, history, geomorphology, environment, 3D reconstruction

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