The sword of Ali Atar, Boabdil's military chief, is digitized in 3D

The sword of Ali Atar, Boabdil's military chief, is digitized in 3D

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Ali Atar, governor of Loja and Lord of Zagra, was a Spanish-Muslim leader at the King Boabdil's service, the last sultan of Granada, with whom he was also related by marrying his daughter Moraima.

In April 1483 Boabdil tried to take the Christian city of Lucena (Córdoba) with the help of his father-in-law, but they lost the battle: the Nasrid king was captured Y Ali Atar died fighting at the age of 90.

His magnificent sword, covered in gold, ivory and precious metals, then passed into the hands of Christians and, after many historical vicissitudes, today this Andalusian treasure is preserved and exhibited in the Toledo Army Museum (MUSEUM).

To graphically document this valuable piece and make it known through the web, researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and the company Ingheritag3D have carried out a process of three-dimensional digitization. The study has just been published in the magazine Virtual Archeology Review.

They first photographed the sword from multiple angles using a technique called photogrammetry. After they have overlapped all the images, they have traced planimetries (drawings of the minute watermarks on the hilt) and generated your 3D model.

"These techniques offer the possibility of highlighting relevant pieces inside and outside museums, since three-dimensional modeling is prepared both for specialists - who can manipulate the piece virtually - and to be shared publicly and interactively. through the Internet ”, highlights the engineer Margot Gil-Melitón, co-author of the work.

Using a web viewer, any user can handle with their mouse an exact replica of the hilt of this genet sword, a type of genuinely Nasrid weapon introduced in Al-Andalus by the Zenetas (Berber people from which it takes its name).

That of Ali Atar It has a pommel in the shape of a bulbous dome, an ivory handle carved with Arabic drawings and letters, and a golden crown topped with zoomorphic figures.

To record the details of this fine ornamentation, researchers have devised solutions that have facilitated the analysis of highly reflective materials and complicated geometries. His workflow could also be applied to characterize other museum pieces.

“A resource as valuable as cultural heritage is no longer satisfied with physical conservation: it must be complemented with exhaustive digital preservation in all its forms, which facilitates the investigation of the pieces, their correct safeguarding and the dissemination of knowledge to the great public ”, concludes the other author of the study, the UPV professor José Luis Lerma.

Bibliographic reference:

Margot Gil-Melitón, José Luis Lerma. "Historical military heritage: 3D digitisation of the Nasri sword attributed to Ali Atar”. Virtual Archeology Review, Vol 10 - No 20, pp. 52-69, 2019. DOI:

3D interactive animation of the handle of the genet sword of Ali Atar:

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