Archaeologists Want to Create 3-D Augmented Reality Versions of Ancient Sites to Preserve the Real Ones

Tuesday, 02 June 2015 - 11:57AM
Virtual Reality
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 - 11:57AM
Archaeologists Want to Create 3-D Augmented Reality Versions of Ancient Sites to Preserve the Real Ones
The caves of Cappadocia in Turkey are beautiful and historically significant, as they once served as a haven for people fleeing persecution. These ancient peoples created hidden communities there, carving homes, churches, and other living spaces out of the rock, which have persisted for centuries. But even so, they are ultimately "fated to a slow and progressive degradation," according to professor of architecture Giorgio Verdiani, partially as a result of tourist attention, leading him and other archaeologists to turn to virtual reality to preserve these invaluable structures.

Human presence in these ancient sites causes damage in any number of ways, including wear and tear from our footsteps and increased moisture from our breath. As a result, the sites often become structurally unstable, making it unsafe for tourists to visit and experience these historical destinations, or interventions threaten the original qualities of the site, or sacrifice the "poetry of ruin," as Verdiani puts it. 

As a result, archaeologists have proposed that in the near future, these unstable sites could be safely enjoyed by tourists via virtual reality. Verdiani claims that we could use a laser scanner to save images of the walls, and then use computer software to create a complete 3-D image of the site. Then, tourists could use virtual reality headsets to "explore" the caves without damaging the real ones, likely in a museum exhibition. Our virtual reality technology is likely not quite there yet, but according to Verdiani, it could be in the foreseeable future.

"The "wonders" of our technological era offer a great opportunity and, at the same time, present a great challenge to create models that do not strive to simply mimic the original," Verdiani wrote in his paper. "They can use the same language in different forms, relying on specific and immediate forms of presentation and the dissemination of appropriate technologies, so that they can inspire the visitor's desire to see the original, but at the same time allow him or her to experience these copies as an opportunity to better learn and better understand the characteristics of the original itself."

Via Popular Science.
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