Virtual Reality in Archaeology

Visualizing antiquity through modern lenses

virtual-reality-archaeology-lithodomos-1

Wearing one of Lithodomos’s headsets, a visitor to Jerusalem’s Western Wall catches a glimpse of ancient Jerusalem. The use of virtual reality in archaeology can help tourists visualize how a site may have looked in antiquity. Photo: Lithodomos VR.

Have you ever found yourself gazing out at an archaeological ruin—usually having traveled thousands of miles to get there—and wondering: What exactly am I looking at? How would this have appeared in ancient times?

Few archaeological sites are straightforward to an observer. Thousands of years of erosion and subsequent construction often leave sites challenging to interpret. However, recently Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been helping visitors and students understand ancient sites.

Virtual Reality allows an individual to view a simulated 3D environment through a headset, as though they were physically there. The advantage of using virtual reality in archaeology is that tourists and students can first observe an archaeological site in person and then compare this view with a 3D representation of that site from the same perspective, but fully reconstructed. Understandably, many tourists have found this to be helpful in visualizing and interpreting the archaeological remains they are looking at.
 


 
Interested in the latest archaeological technology? Researchers at the UCSD’s Calit2 laboratory released the free BAS eBook Cyber-Archaeology in the Holy Land — The Future of the Past, featuring the latest research on GPS, Light Detection and Ranging Laser Scanning, unmanned aerial drones, 3D artifact scans, CAVE visualization environments and much more.
 


 
With a team of 3D modelers and archaeologists, Lithodomos—a company that creates VR tours of historical sites—has created virtual reconstructions from 10 countries, including sites like the Roman Colosseum, the Athenian Agora, and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. These 360° scenes, once downloaded as an app on a smartphone and viewed with a VR headset, can be used on site by tourists or remotely by individuals or classrooms.

virtual-reality-archaeology-lithodomos-2

In a tour of Jerusalem, this reconstructed scene of the city during the Roman period appears on viewers’ headsets—and on the Lithodomos app for smartphones. Photo: Lithodomos VR.

In addition to its educational uses, Simon Young, the CEO and co-founder of Lithodomos, sees VR as a possible alternative to physical reconstruction of ancient sites. Physical reconstruction is sometimes contested since the process often involves inauthentic materials and changes the original state of an archaeological discovery.1

virtual-reality-archaeology-lithodomos-3

Visitors to Athens’s Acropolis step back in time—with Lithodomos’s headsets—to see the ruins as they would have appeared in ancient times. Photo: Lithodomos VR.

In spite of the benefits VR contributes to tourism, one of the primary concerns is that VR might distract from the actual archaeological site and defeat the purpose of visiting historical sites in person. However, according to Daniel A. Guttentag, director of the Office of Tourism Analysis at the College of Charleston, the potential of virtual reality in archaeology for constructive and appropriate use “will be determined by a tourist’s attitudes toward authenticity and his or her motivations and constraints.”2

And for those who desire to literally step into the past, this may be as close as you can get!
 


 
Interested in the latest archaeological technology? Researchers at the UCSD’s Calit2 laboratory released the free BAS eBook Cyber-Archaeology in the Holy Land — The Future of the Past, featuring the latest research on GPS, Light Detection and Ranging Laser Scanning, unmanned aerial drones, 3D artifact scans, CAVE visualization environments and much more.
 


 
Abby VanderHart holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Archaeology from Wheaton College and is on staff at the Tel Shimron Excavations.
 


 

Notes:

1. Simon Young, “Virtual Reality Brings the Past to Life,” Pursuit (blog), published on February 14, 2017.

2. Daniel A. Guttentag, “Virtual Reality: Applications and Implications for Tourism,” Tourism Management 31.5 (2010), pp. 637–351.
 


 

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Virtually Explore Jesus’ Tomb at the National Geographic Museum

3D Archaeology: Destroyed Monuments Resurrected

To See or Not to See: Technology Peers into Ancient Mummies
 


 

Posted in News, Cultural Heritage.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Add Your Comments

2 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  • Damian says

    I love this invention.have always wondered what ancient places were like. I will also like a topic on radio carbon dating of ancient biblical figures. Great work

  • William says

    What a wonderful idea!..


  • Some HTML is OK

    or, reply to this post via trackback.


Send this to a friend

Hello! You friend thought you might be interested in reading this post from https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org:
Virtual Reality in Archaeology!
Here is the link: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/archaeology-today/cultural-heritage/virtual-reality-archaeology/
Enter Your Log In Credentials...

Change Password

×