Conference PaperPDF Available

From the dig to Cyberspace. A case study of virtual worlds as a tool for interpretation centers.

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Interpretation centers have become a very adequate and viable solution for effective communication of heritage information in municipalities and rural areas which lack the resources for establishing a traditional, full-scale museum, and where heritage can be an important factor for tourism development. Unlike traditional museums, interpretation centers do not usually aim at collecting, preserving and studying objects; they are specialized institutions for communicating the significance and meaning of heritage. They work to educate and raise awareness. Many studies have demonstrated the capabilities of virtual worlds to enhance the learning process at all educational levels. Some of them, including previous works by the authors of this paper, come to the same conclusion in a scenery involving museums and schools for telepresential visits. Although there are numerous cases of the use of heritage reconstruction in virtual worlds few examples can be found in the context of a real museum. The present work deals with the design of a dedicated, OpenSim based virtual world as a part of a real exhibition taking place in a small interpretation center devoted to the mosaics found in the dig of a Roman villa. The virtual model was intended to accomplish two objectives. On the one hand, it should display a complete recreation of the mosaics found in the nearby excavation, allowing the visitors to contemplate the appearance of the pavements in their full size instead of just fragments. On the other hand, the villa model should be designed to act as built-in environment that could provide context for the interpretation of the mosaics.
Content may be subject to copyright.
THE STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM
VIRTUAL ARCHAEOLOGY
(Methods and benets)
Proceedings of the Second International Conference
held at the State Hermitage Museum
1–3 June 2015
Saint Petersburg
The State Hermitage Publishers
2015
ГОСУДАРСТВЕННЫЙ ЭРМИТАЖ
ВИРТУАЛЬНАЯ АРХЕОЛОГИЯ
(эффективность методов)
Материалы Второй Международной конференции,
состоявшейся вГосударственном Эрмитаже
1–3 июня 2015 года
Санкт-Петербург
Издательство Государственного Эрмитажа
2015
УДК 930.26(063)
ББК (Т)63.4
В52
Печатается по решению
Редакционно-издательского совета
Государственного Эрмитажа
Программный комитет конференции:
П. Рейли (Великобритания)
М. Форте (США)
И. Лирицис (Греция)
Ф. Николучи (Италия)
В. Нойбауэр (Австрия)
Научный редактор:
Д. Ю.Гук
Редакционная коллегия:
А. Ю. Алексеев
Л. C.Воротинская
П. Рейли
А. Мойлемеестер
Виртуальная археология (эффективность методов) : материалы Второй Международ-
ной конференции, состоявшейся 1–3 июня 2015 года вГосударственном Эрмитаже / Госу-
дарственный Эрмитаж. – СПб. : Изд-во Гос. Эрмитажа, 2015. – с. : ил.
ISBN 978-5-93572-608-9
Первая Международная конференция по виртуальной археологии была организована Отделом
археологии Восточной Европы и Сибири Государственного Эрмитажа (Санкт-Петербург, Российская
Федерация) в 2012 году. На конференции впервые были установлены связи между специалистами,
работающими в разных странах. Активную роль в подготовке следующей конференции «Виртуаль-
ная археология» сыграли Государственный Эрмитаж и АДИТ (Некоммерческое партнёрство по авто-
матизации музейной деятельности и новым информационным технологиям), обеспечившие работу
тематического информационного ресурса www.virtualarchaeology.ru. Цели второй конференции
заключались в обсуждении методик, применяемых в виртуальной археологии, постановке задач
ипредставлении результатов исследований.
Проект выполнен при поддержке Благотворительного фонда В. Потанина в рамках программы
«Музейный десант».
Издание предназначено для археологов и специалистов по информационным технологиям.
УДК 930.26(063)
ББК (Т)63.4
На обложке: логотип конференции
«Виртуальная археология», автор Д. Ю. Гук
В52
© Авторы, тексты, иллюстрации, 2015
© Государственный Эрмитаж, 2015
ISBN 978-5-93572-608-9
215
3D-ДОКУМЕНТЫ: ДОСТУПНОСТЬ МЕТАДАННЫХ
ВИРТУАЛЬНОГО ОКРУЖЕНИЯ
3D DOCUMENTATION:
METADATA AND THEIR ACCESSIBILITY
V. Barneche Naya, l. Hernández Ibáñez
University of Coruña, Spain
FROM THE DIG TO CYBERSPACE. A CASE STUDY OF VIRTUAL
WORLDS AS ATOOL FOR INTERPRETATION CENTERS
1. Introduction
Interpretation centers have become avery adequate and viable solution for eective
communication of heritage information in municipalities and rural areas which lack the
resources for establishing atraditional, full-scale museum, and where heritage can be an
important factor for tourism development.
Unlike traditional museums, interpretation centers do not usually aim at collecting,
conserving and studying objects; they are specialized institutions for communicating the
signicance and meaning of heritage. They work to educate and raise awareness.
Many studies have demonstrated the capabilities of virtual worlds to enhance the
learning process at all educational levels. Some of them, including previous works by the
authors of this paper, come to the same conclusion in ascenery involving museums and
schools for telepresential visits (Barneche 2014).
Although there are numerous cases of the use of heritage reconstruction in virtual
worlds (Harrison 2009; Sequeira 2013; Barneche 2010), few examples can be found in the
context of areal museum, like the case of Villa Livia (Forte 2008). The present work deals
with the design of adedicated, OpenSim based virtual world as a part of a real exhibi-
tion taking place in asmall interpretation center: the Museum of the Mosaic of Casariche
(Spain) devoted to the mosaics found in the dig of the Roman villa of El Alcaparral (4th –
5th century AD).
The virtual model was intended to accomplish two objectives. On the one hand, it
should display acomplete recreation of the mosaics found in the nearby excavation, allow-
ing the visitors to contemplate the appearance of the pavements in their full size instead
of just fragments. On the other hand, the villa model should be designed to act as built-in
environment that could provide context for the interpretation of the mosaics.
2. Methodology
This work has been carried out in two phases; the rst one consisted of the construction
of the virtual model to be used for virtual exhibitions and activities, and the second one
included all aspects of virtual musealization.
2. 1. Construction of the virtual model
Reconstruction of the mosaics:
The mosaics to be displayed can be separated into two groups. The rst one includes
those formed solely by geometrical motifs. Here, the modular and repetitive characteris-
tics of the formal structure of the drawings allowed to easily obtain apossible full version
216 217
Fig. 1.
Geometrical mosaic in the atrium of the impluvium and reconstruction.
(photos from the intervention Report – above-and from the virtual world – below)
Fig. 2.
“The Judgment of Paris” mosaic (photos from the Intervention Report –
above, and from the virtual world – below)
218 219
of every original design. Patterns were repeated, in search of acoherent formal structure
for every case in accordance with the dimensions and shape of every room. Apart from
possible unknown irregularities or unexpected lost elements that could break the homo-
geneity of the design in the original mosaic, the reconstructed versions oer an image of
every mosaic that would correspond approximately to the appearance of those ancient
pavements (g. 1).
The second group of mosaics is composed of those containing gurative designs. There
were three mosaics in this group, in dierent states of preservation. The mosaic depicting
the “Judgment of Paris” (g. 2) was almost complete and only needed afew retouches to
obtain its virtual replica.
The second one, called “The Spring”, mosaic lacked alarge part of the face of the person
represented, however the characteristics of the shape of the human face permitted to re-
construct it fairly well (g. 3).
The third case, the mosaic that covered the bottom of the impluvium, was almost com-
pletely lost and only small parts were extant. Nevertheless, those parts indicated clearly
that the original design depicted ascene containing two Nereids riding aTriton.
The detailed formal analysis of the remaining fragments revealed multiple similarities
with other mosaics of the same age and similar theme found in excavations located in
neighboring regions. That made the authors consider agreat inuence or even acommon
school authorship that might induce to think that the motif depicted in the original mosaic
could be very similar. Hence, the scene was fully reconstructed, and the clear character of
Fig. 3.
“The Spring” mosaic in the virtual world
hypothesis of such reconstruction was indicated in the associated explanatory panel that
oats over the element. Moreover, the virtual version helps understand the frequent use of
marine scenes in impluvia and other hydraulic elements (g. 4).
Finally, ageneric mosaic was designed to be used in the rooms that presented more
uncertainty in their layout, as ameans to mark them as the most hypothetic part of the
interpretation of the house.
Reconstruction of the villa:
In order to facilitate abetter comprehension of late Roman architecture, the three-di-
mensional representation of this villa olearia which was made for this project tries to be
as accurate as possible, based on all the data obtained from the archaeological dig, but
considering the fact that the remains are neither abundant nor well preserved. Addition-
ally, the authors interpreted the historical and ethnographical data available and analyzed
other nearby villas olearias that present asimilar terrain organization based on terraces of
the same period as the villa vinicola of Fuente Alamo and the villa agricola of Villaricos.
Other reconstruction criteria for the making of the model were based on the current
archaeological thought named Archaeology of Architecture (Steadman 1996; Azkarate
2002). This discipline provides analytical models and methodological tools that contrib-
ute signicantly to the study of dierent dimensions of the built space. This work used
the constructive analysis to obtain the characteristics of the domestic architecture of the
Fig. 4.
Impluvium in the virtual world with the reconstructed mosaic of Nereids riding a Triton
220
Fig. 5.
General views of the villa – above, and hypothetic distribution of the pars urbana.
Pavements with mosaics are marked – below
archaeological site, the formal analysis to construe and understand the functionality of the
structures and the syntactic analysis of the space to grasp the subjacent social signicance.
The virtual reconstruction mimics the constructive materials found in the dig that are
properly described in the corresponding excavation reports (Sierra 1985; Hoz 1987). Those
reports also give important clues to the possible distribution of spaces and the way they
are grouped in terraces following the slope of the terrain. Those clues were especially taken
into account to obtain the hypothetical layout of the complex.
On the basis of the previous analysis, the model of the villa was organized in three zones
following the alignments of the terraces found on the site. The rst one corresponds to the
pars urbana, the noble area where the dominus and his family lived, and the area dedicat-
ed to the thermal baths (balnea). The second one is related to the accommodation of the
servants, slaves and all personnel who harvested the crops in the surrounding elds. The
third area includes spaces for storage of farm equipment and stables. The nal distribution
is displayed in the gures (g. 5).
2. 2. Virtual musealization
Musealization of the model:
The virtual representation of the domus is fully visitable. The user, represented by his
or her avatar, dressed as aRoman inhabitant of the villa, can walk freely throughout all the
complex, enjoying not only the architecture of the building, but also the wall paintings, fur-
niture, mosaics and other elements of material culture (anphoras for oil and wine, tegulas,
oil lamps, etc) (g. 6). The setting of the dierent spaces (atria, peristila, lararium, triclinium,
tablinium, etc) helps interpret the daily life in such facilities. The main focus is the mosaic of
Fig. 6.
Anphoras for oil and wine and explanatory panel
221
222 223
the “Judgment of Paris” since this piece is unique in Hispania, being one of the ve known
mosaic found in all the Roman Empire and depicting this theme (Blázquez 1985).
All notable elements in the virtual villa have explanatory panels written in Spanish and
English (switchable) that give information about every specic topic. Some rooms act as
containers of descriptive elements like maps (g. 7), pictures and videos related to the ac-
tivities that took place in the villa and the art of mosaic making.
Implementation and support for the interpretation center:
The virtual villa is implemented as adatabase in an OpenSim server, so it can be ac-
cessed through the Internet using any compatible viewer such as Singularity, Kokua or
Imprudence. Anyway, acustom-congured viewer can download this project from the
website of the virtual world.
Independently from the remote access, the virtual world is designed so that it can be
used as alocal simulation of the ancient house from within the interpretation center, with
the help of aregular personal computer located in one of its exhibition rooms. This way,
this virtual museum accomplishes several objectives of the center:
Depiction: The virtual world displays formal aspects and characteristics of the ele-
ments to interpret, their full shape, location and use in the villa, relative importance, etc.
Evocation: The virtual villa fosters the use of imagination to make the visitors feel
themselves part of the ancient world, thus helping understand the key concepts and better
grasp the information that is oered.
Experience: The visitor can perceive the villa and the mosaics located inside through
avirtual, but vivid experience, feeling the relations between the spaces, contemplating the
Fig. 7.
Room explaining the oil commerce from the villa
elements displayed, and experiencing the visit to the virtual villa like he or she could do it
in areal museum.
Last but not least, the multiuser enabled remote access brings the possibility to put
distant visitors in touch, allowing them to meet one another in the virtual facility where
both text and voice chats are available. This way, it is possible to organize such events as
lectures, guided visits for remote groups of visitors (i.e. school groups) in the virtual villa,
expert meetings, etc (g. 8).
2. 3. Avatars and gamication
As it was mentioned above, users enter this world using avatars that can be chosen from
asmall variety of male and female, both adult and child, images. Those avatars dressed in
Roman garments and wearing jewelry can be personalized for every user. This is made in
order to reinforce the feeling of personal presence of the visitor in the virtual world.
There is aquiz game implemented in the virtual world, specially designed for young
visitors. The player is to face abas-relief sculpture of Medusa that asks him or her aques-
tion. The answer is easy to give if the visitor has paid enough attention to the information
displayed all over the villa. If the player succeeds in answering the question, Medusa gives
him (or her) an image of agolden apple like the one depicted in the “Judgment of Paris”
mosaic (g. 9).
3. Conclusions
Virtual worlds can be used as avery eective tool for the dissemination of the cultural
goods of an interpretation center. Virtual replicas can not only be displayed but also put
into context, allowing for abetter understanding of their cultural meaning. Those virtual
Fig. 8.
Educational activities for remote users
224
Fig. 9.
Visitor playing the quiz
environments can be used both as on-site simulation of historical reconstruction and also
as ameans for remote visits, drawing interest and attention of visitors from all over the
world, thus reaching people which could probably never visit the real place. All of this
makes virtual worlds anotable tool for enhancing the didactic capabilities of such centers.
References
Azkarate 2002
Azkarate A. Arqueología de la arquitectura: denición disciplinar y nuevas perspectivas //
Arqueología de la Arquitectura 1. 2002. Pp. 7–10.
Barneche 2010
Barneche V. Patrimonio histуrico y metaversos. Estudio de caso de la recreaciуn
interactiva de la Torre de Hércules en Second Life // Virtual Archaeology Review. Vol. 1.2. Pp. 59–62.
Barneche 2014
Barneche V. Evaluating user experience in joint activities between schools and
museums in virtual worlds // Universal Access in the Information Society. Springer, 2014. Available:
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10209-014-0367-y# Accessed
Blázquez 1985
Blázquez J. Mosaicos romanos del Campo de Villavidel (León) y de Casariche (Sevilla) // Archivo
Espanol de Arqueologia. T III. Madrid: CSIC, 1985.
Forte 2008
Forte M. La Villa di Livia. Un percorso di ricerca di archeologia virtuale. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider,
2008.
Harrison 2009
Harrison R. Excavating Second Life: cyber-archaeologies, heritage and virtual
Communities // Journal of Material Culture 14(1). 2009. Pp. 75–106.
Hoz 1987
Hoz A. Informe de la segunda campaña de excavaciones en la villa romana de “El
Alcaparral” // Anuario Arqueologico de Andalucia 86. Vol. III. 1987.
Sequeira 2013
Sequeira L. Virtual archaeology in Second Life and OpenSimulator // Journal for Virtual
World Research. Vol. 6. 2013. Available: https://journals.tdl.org/jvwr/index.php/jvwr/article/
view/7047/6310. Accessed
Sierra 1985
Sierra J. Memoria de la excavación de urgencia en El Alcaparral (Casariche, Sevilla), 1985–1987 //
Anuario Arqueologico de Andalucia 58. 1985.
Steadman 1996
Steadman S. Recent research in the archaeology of architecture: beyond the
foundations // Journal of Archaeological Research. Vol. 4.1. 1996. Pp. 51–93.
Chapter
Full-text available
- Desde que nacemos, la comunicación con nuestro entorno se basa en el lenguaje corporal; la mirada, el tacto o los gestos constituyen las fórmulas iniciales de comunicación hasta que en etapas posteriores adquirimos el lenguaje hablado y escrito. Hoy en día los museos incorporan, de manera creciente y sostenida, el uso de instalaciones cuyas interfaces utilizan esos mismos canales de comunicación que resultan “naturales” para sus visitantes, facilitando la experiencia pedagógica y aumentando su capacidad educativa. En este tipo de instalaciones, la interacción se basa en la extracción de información sobre las intenciones del usuario a partir de sus acciones por parte de la aplicación informática y la presentación de contenidos que son manipulados intuitivamente por el usuario. En el presente texto, se describen diferentes trabajos realizados por los autores en el diseño y la ejecución de experiencias basadas en el concepto de interacción natural, desarrollados para museos y centros de interpretación. Los diferentes ejemplos se han agrupado sobre la base de los tres grandes ejes —describir, evocar y experimentar— que, en nuestra opinión, articulan la experiencia del usuario en la museología virtual.------------------------------- Since we are born, the communication with our environment is facilitated through body language; sight, touch or gestures provide starting communication formulas until, in a later stage, we acquire the spoken language and the written word. Today, museums are incorporating, more and more, installations whose interfaces use those communication channels, as they result “natural” to visitors, facilitating the pedagogic experience and increasing its education power. In this type of installations the interaction is based on the extraction of information about user intentions from a computer application. It is also based on presenting contents that can be manipulated intuitively by the user. This paper describes several projects undertaken by the authors, which deal with the design and execution of experiences based on the concept of natural interaction. These have been developed for museums and interpretation centres. The examples have been grouped in three main axes: description, evocation, experimentation. In our opinion, these axes articulate the user experience in virtual museology.
Article
Full-text available
The use of virtual worlds in the school is an extraordinary tool to engage the children in the process of e-learning. Although one can find many examples that describe the use of such a technology in teaching regular educational contents, very few examples replicate other classical outdoor educational activities such as a visit to a museum, including the remote interaction with the docents of the visited institution. In this work, the results of a study of the user experience of three groups of children within a flexible virtual space that connects schools and museums are described and evaluated. This integrated educational space not only includes the exploration of exhibition areas but also the telepresence talks on the part of museum personnel, simulations, educational work in the form of virtual quests, all within a multi-user virtual environment based on OpenSim and simultaneously accessible from the different institutions involved in the experiment. The results obtained could serve as a starting point for a future implementation of this platform for connecting educational institutions and museums across an entire city.
Article
Full-text available
Traditional approaches to virtual archaeology include dealing with research methods to capture information from heritage sites, creating models out of that information and how to present them to the public; these are intense technical procedures which might be too costly for some types of history or heritage-based projects. Virtual worlds allowed new types of models of/for heritage sites to be produced and disseminated at a fraction of the cost. Second Life®, and its open source counterpart, OpenSimulator, are virtual world platforms with user-generated content. 3D models are created in real time and instantly rendered for all visitors. This allows amateurs and researchers create their own virtual archaeology projects easily and with few costs, and to have the resulting models immediately available to a vast community of users. This article presents an overview of four different approaches to virtual archaeology projects that are present in these platforms and that have been publicly discussed and analyzed; in particular, the last type shows a novel approach to virtual archaeology which is not found in other platforms, and explains how researchers have managed to extend the concept to new areas and develop methodologies to incorporate the validation of historical accuracy to encompass these areas.
Article
Although architectural remains have always been a principal focus of archaeological investigation, research on such remains, particularly small-scale structures, has taken on new importance because of the information they can offer on human behavior. This article provides a review of recent trends in the archaeology of architecture (mainly domestic in nature), including current work in household archaeology and spatial patterning analysis of architectural remains, and discusses the new models and methodologies being generated to interpret these remains. The main areas covered in this review include the New World, Mesoamerica in particular, Europe, and general focus on recent work in the Near East.
Article
While the anthropology of online communities has emerged as a significant area of research, there has been little discussion of the possibilities of the archaeology of virtual settlements, defined here as interactive synthetic environments in which users are sensually immersed and which respond to user input. Bartle (in Designing Virtual Worlds, 2003: 1) has described such virtual settlements as `places where the imaginary meets the real'. In this sense, an examination of the role of heritage in virtual settlements has the potential to shed light on the role of heritage in both `real' and `imagined' communities more generally. This article develops the concept of `cyberarchaeology' (originally devised by Jones in his 1997 article, `Virtual Communities') to study the virtual material culture of the settlement Second Life, and in particular, its explicit programme of heritage conservation. A survey of heritage places in Second Life suggests that the functions of heritage in virtual settlements may be far more limited than in the actual world, functioning primarily as a structure of governance and control through the establishment of the rationale for (virtual) land ownership and the production of a sense of community through memorials which produce a sense of `rootedness' and materialize social memory. Such functions of heritage are consistent with recent discussion of the role of heritage in western societies. Nonetheless, this study of heritage and cyber-archaeology provides insights into the ways in which the notions of heritage are transforming in the early 21st century in connection with the proliferation of virtual environments, and the challenge this provides to contemporary society.
Estudio de caso de la recreaciуn interactiva de la Torre de Hércules en Second Life
  • V Barneche
  • Patrimonio
Barneche V. Patrimonio histуrico y metaversos. Estudio de caso de la recreaciуn interactiva de la Torre de Hércules en Second Life // Virtual Archaeology Review. Vol. 1.2. Pp. 59-62. Barneche 2014
Mosaicos romanos del Campo de Villavidel (León) y de Casariche (Sevilla) // Archivo Espanol de Arqueologia. T III. Madrid : CSIC
  • J Blázquez
Blázquez J. Mosaicos romanos del Campo de Villavidel (León) y de Casariche (Sevilla) // Archivo Espanol de Arqueologia. T III. Madrid : CSIC, 1985. Forte 2008
Un percorso di ricerca di archeologia virtuale
  • M La Forte
  • Villa Di Livia
Forte M. La Villa di Livia. Un percorso di ricerca di archeologia virtuale. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider, 2008. Harrison 2009
Informe de la segunda campaña de excavaciones en la villa romana de " El Alcaparral
  • A Hoz
Hoz A. Informe de la segunda campaña de excavaciones en la villa romana de " El Alcaparral " // Anuario Arqueologico de Andalucia 86. Vol. III. 1987. Sequeira 2013
Memoria de la excavación de urgencia en El Alcaparral
  • J Sierra
Sierra J. Memoria de la excavación de urgencia en El Alcaparral (Casariche, Sevilla), 1985-1987 // Anuario Arqueologico de Andalucia 58. 1985. Steadman 1996