MDM Students Create Ancient VR City with UBC Archeology

MDM Students Create Ancient VR City with UBC Archeology

A team of MDM students are working to create an ancient VR city this semester.

Working with UBC’s department of Archeology and KAMBE, the team has been tasked with creating a completely new type of archeological experience. By combining existing remote sensing technologies and geophysics with immersive technologies, the team wants to give users a sense of what it was like to live in Late Bronze Age Cyprus.

Here’s what the team has to say about their project.

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Team GeoLens is working with Dr. Kevin Fisher on a VR project to recreate Late Bronze Age Cyprus.

We're exploring ways to use VR as a serious research tool for archaeologists (and scholars in general) to make visual representations of data, which can possibly enable researchers to analyse data sets in ways not previously possible.

Dr. Fisher is an Assistant Professor of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology at UBC and co-director of the Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments Project (KAMBE). KAMBE is a collaborative and interdisciplinary investigation of the social changes that took place in Late Bronze Age Cyprus, when places like Kalavasos were transformed from a relatively insular, egalitarian village to a city with centralized systems of product and exchange, international business, social classes, and monumental architecture.

The goal of the collaboration is to combine the results of KAMBE’s emerging remote sensing technologies and geophysics such as 3D LiDAR scanning, photogrammetry, and aerial thermography, with emerging immersive technologies like VR to create a totally new type of archaeological experience for scholars and the public alike. The prototype will allow academics to experience and interact with a model of the Kalavasos area as our current knowledge projects it.  

The goal…[is] to create a totally new type of archaeological experience for scholars and the public alike."

Photo of Building X, Pithos Hall on Kalavasos site, looking northwest (photo by K. Fisher).

Models of ceramic jars to store olive oils, developed by team GeoLens.

GeoLens is a diverse team from all different backgrounds with a variety of experience in digital media. The team includes:

  • 3D Modellers, who will re-create the environment and objects of Late Bronze Age Cyprus
  • Programmers, who will make the experience interactive
  • Designers, who will design the user interface and user experience
  • Managers, who will manage the project’s vision and research purposes.

With the data from KAMBE and the research expertise of Dr. Fisher, the site can be reconstructed as accurately as possible, with the team taking every measure to both ensure that the artifacts and rooms being recreated match the photos and scans available, while at the same time making the best educated decisions to creatively reconstruct what is missing, based on the most recent scholarship.

This will all be combined to create a VR experience that enables you to not only imagine, but also immerse yourself in a new—yet old—world. The experience will create a sense of place and tell stories never before experienced.

With VR you can see and walk around ancient sites with a new level of understanding for what it was like for the ancients to see the transformation of their world and social spaces. And since the work is digital, reconstructions can be easily redesigned based on new research, and shared with others to stimulate discussion and interest.

With VR you can see and walk around ancient sites with a new level of understanding for what it was like for the ancients to see the transformation of their world and social spaces."

Schematic plan of the Northeast Area at K-AD (modified by Kevin Fisher from plan provided by Alison South).

Finally, GeoLens will ultimately produce a pipeline, which will allow future discoveries to easily be added to the experience, and give researchers a new way to explore their theories.

According to Larry Bafia, Associate Director and the team's faculty advisor,

the collaboration between MDM students and UBC Archaeology has given us an opportunity to explore many digital tools and techniques in order to provide a virtual experience. By referring to data collected form Lidar scans, digital surveys and photography from the site, the MDM team is helping to develop a new direction in using VR for Archaeological research."

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See Other Projects MDM Students Are Working on This Semester

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