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page updated October 23, 2002
Current projects R&D Innovations to come

The Status of Current Projects
The Central Palace Area, Nimrud
  • Learning Sites is preparing material for a virtual reality re-creation of the building phases from this location on the citadel of Nimrud, Assyria (Iraq).  The bulk of the material for this all-digital excavation report will be the unpublished Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology's explorations at the site in the 1970s.  Our virtual reality-based report will feature interactive links across multiple datasets, including virtual worlds, animations, photographs, drawings, and text, most of which have never before been made public.

  • Al-Meragh: research and publication material

  • We are re-creating this ancient Nubian settlement (in northern Sudan) as the excavations continue to bring in new data. Eventually the entire site will become a virtual reality model, with links to excavation evidence and to information about the other sites along the old trade route.  We have a unique double house modeled, as well as miscellaneous walls from other potential houses.

  • Tsoungiza, Ancient Nemea: All-Digital Excavation Report

    • The Java-enabled search engine for the artifact database continues to get new features, such as (a) the ability to see all the database fields for each artifact retrieved from a search (this, in addition to being able to link to photographs, drawings, excavation notebook pages, and virtual worlds directly from the results list); and (b) the ability to print out each of the various results screens.  We are also adding special fields for user input into the database search, so that researchers can search for objects in specific grid squares or trenches. 
    • Regarding the virtual worlds of the trenches and selected buildings, we are writing programs that will allow users to turn on or off virtual scales of each artifact, so that parts of the objects can be measured in virtual reality.  This Learning Sites innovation will grant archaeologists unparalleled interaction for studying features, objects, and parts of objects closely and in millimeter detail--as if they held them in their hands, calipers at the ready.
    • The user interfaces for the three versions (student, general public, professional) are under revision.

    The Northwest Palace of Ashur-nasir-pal II, Nimrud, Assyria: Research Resource

    • We continue to model more of the entire building; rendering and digital re-placement of the reliefs is moving beyond the Throne Room suite to other interior spaces.
    • We are researching which color paint would have been used for the sculpture of the site, with the aid of new chemical analyses of the existing paint.
    • Our study of the various plans of the complex that have been created over the years has brought to light some discrepancies in the dimensions of certain areas.  New plans are being prepared with the aid of the latest excavation measurements, taken by the Polish team in the 1980s.
    • The current model of the Palace has been mounted on an ImmersaDeskTM 3D stereo viewing system and a 1-wall CAVE at the University at Buffalo SUNY, Center for Computational Research supercomputing lab.  Together we will be conducting tests regarding distance education, interactive 3D characters, and database links.
    In-House R&D
    The Ancient Greek Town of Olynthus
    • Slowly, this 4th-century BCE town is being digitally reconstructed as a whole, while several villas and townhouses are re-created in detail.  3D models of many artifacts from the excavations are being built and will be turned into high-resolution virtual worlds for detailed examination.  Ancient Greek citizens are being modeled by us to populate this virtual world.
    • An accurate digital terrain model is being created onto which we will lay the grid for the town and the models of major sections and monuments of the town.
    • Site fly-overs will be prepared and integrated into the public school educational package that we are refining, based on a comparison between the House of Many Colors from Olynthus and the farmhouse at Vari, Attica.
    The Sanctuary of Nemrud Dagi, Turkey
    • New methods of creating digital terrain maps (more accurately and more quickly than with traditional software methods) are being tested on data from this mountaintop site.
    • Photomodeling and conventional 3D modeling techniques are both being used to reconstruct digitally the massive sculptures from the site.  Based on our experiences, we hope to be able to develop guidelines for deciding which process is the more beneficial for particular circumstances.
    Innovations on the Drawing Board
    New virtual reality tools
    • Learning Sites is developing a series of tools, using VRML, Java, and other languages, to make the navigation and interaction within virtual worlds more useful, easier, and more akin to actually being there--stay tuned !

    Tsoungiza, Ancient Nemea: All-Digital Excavation Report

    • Providing the means to compare several artifact records at once from the results list.
    • Seamless links between the artifact database, the image database, and the virtual worlds, giving users a simulated visit to the excavation, with all the tools of the trench supervisors at hand.
    • Allowing users to walk up a virtual reality model of the hill and choose which trench or which period they would like to explore and with the push of a button have the terrain and architecture change to match the selection.

    The Northwest Palace of Ashur-nasir-pal II, Nimrud, Assyria: Research Resource

    • The addition of intelligent agents acting as site interpreters to communicate with virtual visitors and respond to questions.
    • All the reliefs from the complex will be re-created with links to information about their current location (in museums, collections, or at the site) and state of preservation.

    The Ancient Greek Town of Olynthus

    • The ancient Greek citizenry will be busy working at various chores, businesses, and leisure activities, all for the watching by visitors to the virtual world.  Students will have the first opportunity to interact with the populace, as the educational package for public schools will be the first application to contain these innovations.
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