The Silk Road Cave Shrines

May 1st, 1998 - December 1st, 1998

Categories: Applications, Architecture, Cultural Heritage, Education, Tele-Immersion

Silk Road Cave Interior
Silk Road Cave Interior


This project involved a collaboration between historians, artists and computer scientists to create a virtual cultural and artistic exhibit of the Mogoa Grottoes of Dunhuang. Dunhuang, one of western China’s ancient cultural sites, is considered the gateway to the well-known Silk Road - the East-West trade route between Asia and Europe.

The Mogoa Grottoes are located in the Gobi desert. It consists of 492 caves with murals covering 25,000 square meters (approx. 269,097 square feet), wall fresco paintings, and more than 3000 painted sculptures. These caves span a period of one thousand years, from the forth century to fourteen century. Each cave and each mural has its own story.

The 3-D models of the Grottoes have been accurately created using data from researchers at Northwestern University. These models have been imported into LIMBO as a quick collaborative evaluation and brainstorming tool. This piece was the first collaborative, virtual exhibit of a historic site in the world - demonstrated at Supercomputing 1998 in Orlando Florida.