Albert Sierra, Agència Catalana del Patrimoni Cultural, Spain, Gabriel de Prado, Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya-Ullastret, Spain, Isis Ruiz Soler, Agència Catalana del Patrimoni Cultural, Espanya, Ferran Codina, Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya, Spain
Teleportation and time travel; these are the dreams of people who have an explorer’s spirit, and every visitor to an archaeological site has something of that spirit, too.
Today’s latest game engines and virtual reality devices make it possible to recreate ancient worlds and build experiences with a new aim in mind, not just to see the buildings in an ancient town, but feel as if you were there, as if you were back then.
During the last two years we have been working to process the archaeological information of the ancient town of Ullastret to a complete 3d model of the city that can be experienced in virtual reality.
A team of archaeologists, designers, and programmers has translated all that archaeological data into a complete 3D model built with video game creation software: this software is called Unreal Engine 4, and it allows new immersive outputs like 360º videos and virtual reality environments.
The script contains key elements from the Iberian culture: their totemic animals, the social prevalence of warriors, the fall against the Roman Empire… The users are immersed in the dream of a member of the Iberian elite, who returns in to the town and remembers things like the first time he saw the walls of the town, the children playing in the street, the courtyard where he learned to fight, the empty city after the defeat…
The HTC Vive kit allow us to teleport the visitors to a town of 2,200 years ago. They can physically move in a 3x3m area, where they can wander the streets, enter a room, take a closer look to the amphoras, and more. The project can also be seen in an immersive room suited to small groups, where they are surrounded by big screens showing the same story but adapted to this media.
Virtual reality is a new field of expression and has a completely different language from what we have used before: here the visitor doesn’t see, the visitor IS there, and this triggers a lot of new experiences.
A wide panel of experts in archaeological topics have been working as advisors for this project:
Barceló, J.A. (2001). “Virtual reality for archaeological explanation beyond “picturesque” reconstruction”. Archeologia e Calcolatori 11, 221-244.
Brilhart, J (2015-2016) “The language of VR”. Medium.com Last updated July 6, 2016. Accessed February 12, 2017. https://medium.com/the-language-of-vr
Burford, GB (2016). “There is no such thing as a cinematic video game”. Medium.com. Last updated November 29, 2016. Accessed February 12, 2017. https://medium.com/@DocSeuss/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-cinematic-video-game-977741cc1a50#.rjmkmbtdb
Codina, F.; Garcia-Garcia, E.; Martin, A.; Prado, G. de; Sala, R., y Tamba, R. (2015). “Metodologia de treball i resultats preliminars de la prospecció geofísica multisistema realitzada a l’Illa d’en Reixac (Ullastret, Baix Empordà)”. Tribuna d’Arqueologia, 2012-2013, 236-243. Consulted November 17, 2016. Also Available at http://calaix.gencat.cat/handle/10687/123243 .
Codina, F.; Martin, A., y Prado, G. de (2012): “La recerca arqueològica al conjunt ibèric d’Ullastret en els darrers anys (1995-2010)". Tribuna d’Arqueologia, 2010-2011, 63-99.
Garcia-Garcia, E.; Prado, G. de, Principal, J. (eds.) (2016). Working with buried remains at Ullastret (Catalonia). Proceedings of the 1st MAC International Workshop of Archaeological Geophysics. Ullastret: Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya-Ullastret (Monografies d’Ullastret, 3).
London Charter for the computer-based visualisation of cultural Heritage. Consulted October 18, 2016. Available http://www.londoncharter.org/.
Milk, Ch. (2016) “The Future of Virtual Reality (and why it’s causing us to change our name). Virtual Reality Pop. Last updated June 16, 2016. Accessed February 12, 2017. https://virtualrealitypop.com/futureofvr-8be30f0fca6a#.rupvwmefi
Rae, J. & Edwards, L. “ Virtual reality at the British Museum: What is the value of virtual reality environments for learning by children and young people, schools, and families?. MW2016: Museums and the Web 2016. Published January 28, 2016. Consulted February 12, 2017. http://mw2016.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/virtual-reality-at-the-british-museum-what-is-the-value-of-virtual-reality-environments-for-learning-by-children-and-young-people-schools-and-families/
Ullastret 3D, walk through an Iberian town that existed 2000 years ago. Patrimoni.Gencat. Consulted February 12, 2017. Available http://patrimoni.gencat.cat/en/stories/ullastret-3d-walk-through-iberian-town-existed-2000-years-ago.
You can see some videos about Ullastret3D it in this YouTube playlist: