University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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The role of heritage education in the development of 3D virtual models
M.Carmen Rojo, Tània Martínez, Mireia Romero

Last modified: 2011-12-19


The aim of this paper is to offer the preliminary results of a project carried out by experts of computers as well as designers and archaeologists for the creation of realistic 3D models of Veton Culture architectures based on the data recorded during excavations. The present example is focused specifically on the so-called castros (Iron Age settlements) of Castillo de Saldeana (Saldeana), Lugar Viejo (Yecla de Yeltes) and Las Merchanas (Lumbrales).

Archaeological remains have a significant role for understanding our society and, what it is more, they signify our identity. However, a general public audience can experience difficultly in properly interpreting these remains as they often do not provide sufficient information to transmit historical knowledge in themselves. There is a lack of knowledge about iconography and archaeological education among Spanish Academia. Nevertheless, new technologies applied to sites during both the interpretative and dissemination of archaeological data allow to promote new fascinating ways of presenting Archaeology to a general public audience. This developed framework is so-called Virtual Archaeology and emerges related to technology changes which has ocurred within last decade. This archaeological subfield is dedicated to produce reconstructions of historical situation, building, landscapes or social-scapes by combining archaeology, computer art and computer technology. In this sense, what we argue here is VA offers challenges to the management of archaeological heritage especially if we take into account the fact actual society is characterised for the creation, distribution, diffusion, use, integration and manipulation of information by using IT tools. VA produces iconographic and realistic reconstruction which could be a powerful tool to be used in research proces and teaching and learning spaces. However, it is worth considering that VA approach can be affected by lacking in reserch tradition related not only in iconographic reconstruction but also in heritage education which demanded scientific rigor and continuous updates.

We present here some theoretical reflections based on the above mentioned project carried out by members of the heritage teaching research group DIDPATRI. This implemented project was conducted in the remains from Iron Age fort settlements located in Salamanca (Spain) which form the Castros (Iron Age settlement) and Verracos (granite megalithic monuments) route within a touristic landmark well-know as Veton territory. Traditionally, iconographic reconstructed show partially the complexity of these settlements. For this reason, and because technological advances which allow hyperrealistic computer-based visualisation of archaeological sited, it was decided here to create 3D models in order to make more understandable these sites for general public audience. Once these 3D models were developed, they have been used for different interactive museographic devices as well as books and audiovisual productions. Moreover, it is hoped to make use of them in the archaeological route.

Technical and theoretical issues concerning heritage education and archaeology are discussed. At the end, what we want to promote here is the creation of a comprehensible theoretical framework for those who with community, virtual archaeology and cultural heritage.