Heritage Reconstructed

This blog post is a draft of what will be included in the methods page in the Heritage Reconstructed site. Our aim is to explain our criteria to select the cases (VRs), our technique to find them, and what patterns we have identified based on the VRs we found.

Virtual Reality methods have been used for almost three decades in the field of cultural heritage, specifically, for the reconstruction, visualization, and interpretation of archaeological sites. The Virtual Reconstruction database is organized following two selection criteria: first, we focus on sites that, unlike natural sites, these sites required human intervention and creation, and may include cultural artifacts, architecture, art, religious buildings and objects. Second, we focus on archaeological sites in peril due to poaching, armed conflict, terrorism, war, and environmental damages such as natural disasters and pollution.

We selected the VRs following a snowball technique. First, we explored the UNESCO Word Heritage in danger list. The list includes 53 sites in danger and includes cultural (archaeological) sites and natural sites. We only focused on archaeological sites. We made a search of VRs available online country by country, using different key words to make the search. The UNESCO list allowed us to find some start-ups, artists, and scholars that are also working on virtual reconstruction of archaeological sites in peril and have created VRs on the topic.

Having completed the search following the UNESCO’s list, we identified three patterns: one, there are not many VRs for the sites the UNESCO considers in peril. Second, the VRs available are done in countries and archaeological sites that come from the same geographical region and mostly are in peril, or were destroyed, by war and terrorist groups, e.g., Irak, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan. Third, the VRs available are done in countries and archaeological sites that are very well known, e.g. Italy and Greece.