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Wednesday, March 28 • 2:00pm - 6:15pm
8 - Taking excavation to a virtual world: importing archaeological spatial data to Second Life and OpenSim

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The benefits of analysing and presenting archaeological spatial data in an inteactive 3D environment have been discussed extensively in the literature. Researchers have suggested using various techniques from proprietary visualisation technologies to 3D engines developed for first-person computer games and approaches based on open standards such as VRML. Several authors have recognised also the benefits of social exploration of data in open online environments such as ActiveWorlds. The development of commercial and open non-game 3D virtual worlds has been rapid since the turn of the millennium. Even if the most intensive hype around worlds like Second Life has been relented and some of the pioneers including There.com have been closed down, multi-user virtual worlds have shown their usability in several areas including education, cooperative work, certain leisurely contexts and archaeology [1]. This paper reports of a research project that explored the possibilities of presenting archaeological information in virtual worlds with a specific focus on presenting and using actual spatial data captured by total stations and laser scanners directly in virtual worlds. Field trials were conducted in Second Life and OpenSim environments. The project tested different types and forms of spatial data from several different sources and developed methods for the presentation of the data in the virtual world environment. The findings indicated that Second Life was a preferred environment because of the relatively large existing ecology of individual and institutional users. At the same time, however, the proprietary nature of the environment and the consequent limitations to data transfer and the control of the world made the importing, linkage and manipulation of data problematic. OpenSim allowed a total control of the environment, but lacked certain technical features implemented in Second Life together with a comparable, large population of users. In spite of the several technical challenges identified during the process, virtual worlds provide a highly promising environment for presenting archaeological information using real archaeological data. The earlier archaeological projects in virtual worlds such as Second Life have been based on using the environment as an easy-to-use exploratory modelling tool for archaeologists (e.g. [2]) and a showcase for purposely built visual re-enactments of sites and monuments (e.g. [3]). In spite of the existence of certain challenges, the present study demonstrated the additional possibilities and benefits of working with real documentation data in the same environment.References [1] Kristoffer Getchell, Alan Miller, Colin Allison, and Rebecca Sweetman. Exploring the Second life of a Byzantine Basilica. In Serious Games on the Move, pages 165-180. Springer Vienna, 2009. [2] Shawn Graham. Special Reviews Section: Second lives: online worlds for archaeological teaching and research: Linden Labs, Second Life, www.secondlife.com. European Journal of Archaeology, 10(1):77-79, 2007. [3] Colleen L. Morgan. (Re)Building Çatalhöyük: Changing Virtual Reality in Archaeology. Archaeologies, 2009.

avatar for Isto Huvila

Isto Huvila

Professor, Uppsala University
Professor Isto Huvila holds the chair in library and information science at the Department of ALM (Archival Studies, Library and Information Science and Museums and Cultural Heritage Studies) at Uppsala University in Sweden and is adjunct professor (docent) in information management... Read More →

Wednesday March 28, 2012 2:00pm - 6:15pm BST
Building 65, 1097 Streamed into room 1163

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