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Virtual Reality and Archaeological Reconstruction

Terras, M; (1999) Virtual Reality and Archaeological Reconstruction. In: (Proceedings) Computers and History of Art (CHart), University of Glasgow, September, 1999..

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Abstract

Virtual reality, interactive computer generated sites and scenarios, theoretically creates great opportunities for archaeology, history, and education. Immersive computer driven environments impart information regarding space and human experience that would not be possible using traditional means of representation. Places and structures too remote, dangerous or deteriorated to visit can be experienced, and virtual models can provide the context in which to understand other complex issues surrounding an environment. In the past the technology required to produce such virtual 'worlds' has been expensive and complex, but Internet developments in the last few years have provided the means to generate three-dimensional interactive worlds cheaply and quickly. VRML, Virtual Reality Modeling Language, allows anyone to easily build 3D computer models of objects and places without specialised equipment, and more and more of these virtual archaeological models are becoming available on the Internet. However, few models have been evaluated to assess their educational or archaeological worth, and there remain technical and theoretical issues which need to be addressed regarding the use of VR and VRML in archaeology. The Sen-nedjem Project, undertaken at the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute, University of Glasgow, Scotland, between May and October 1998, investigated the success of an archaeological virtual reality model for use in a museum context by building an interactive computer model of an Egyptian tomb based on pre-published archaeological evidence and testing this model with a view to installing it in the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow. The project illustrates the process of developing such a display and suggests that although it is technically possible to create a virtual reality model based on archaeological evidence there remain various problems regarding the use of VR in archaeology. The scarcity of available spatial information reduces the authenticity of these virtual models, and a lack of meaning and purpose inherent in their medium complicates their educational value. Also, many technical issues still need to be resolved before virtual archaeological reconstructions become commonly and effectively used for pedagogical purposes in archaeology and the humanities.

Type:Proceedings paper
Title:Virtual Reality and Archaeological Reconstruction
Event:Computers and History of Art (CHart), University of Glasgow, September, 1999.
Dates:3998-10
Keywords:Virtual reality, VRML, 3D modelling, archaeology, HTML
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Information Studies

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