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Archaeological Data Visualization in VR:

The ARCHAVE System


    The ARCHAVE system is an immersive virtual reality environment for archaeological research. We began developing the system itself in November 1999, but its roots go farther back, when Eileen Vote started thinking about her PhD thesis. Apart from this page, there's more information about the project on her webpage. and at the Anthropology Department webpage.

Aerial view and excavation trench of the Great Temple of Petra, in Jordan. We used this site to develop ARCHAVE.
A Brown University team, under the direction of Martha S. Joukowsky, has been excavating the site since 1993

    Archaeologists helped us define the initial visualization problem and were also able to guide system development through consistent testing. In developing the system, we wanted to create new visualization and interaction techniques adequate for this specific application. In addition, by evaluating its usefulness in its final field of application (see below: Case Study from IEEE-VIS'01), and identifying some of the characteristics of typical user interaction, we hoped to define techniques that could also be used in other applications. The results obtained from this evaluation confirm the usefulness of the environment in providing researchers with new insight over the recovered information, allowing us to advance in the development of novel interaction techniques and visualization methodologies. This result is now the basis for future advances in the system, since researchers who have tried ARCHAVE have realized its potential, and will continue to adapt their analysis methodology to use this new research environment.

Snapshot of the system showing a model of the architectural ruins of the Great Temple
along with different types of archaeological data, and a semitransparent representation
of the excavation trenches (the volumes of dirt removed in each area)

    We have created the ARCHAVE system as a framework to evaluate virtual reality interaction and data visualization techniques for scientific applications. Both users and developers of the system are now in a privileged position to advance in both its archaeological and its computational side: users understand the possibilities of this new technology in their field, and developers can confidently research new methods and techniques applicable to it.

LEFT: A user analyzes some lamp finds (large tetrahedra) and their relationship with bone (small green tetrahedra) and
metal (small cyan tetrahedra) finds. A key helps him recognize the different representations of the data.
RIGHT: The same user queries the database for pottery finds using a virtual menu activated through the use of pinch gloves.

Presentations and Publications:


    Best Case Study Award at IEEE Visualization 2001


Main researchers:

Daniel Acevedo
Eileen Vote
David H. Laidlaw
Martha S. Joukowsky

This work is partially supported by NSF (BCS-9980091, CCR-0086065, EIA-9724347, EIA-8920219).
ARCHAVE is one of the projects included in the SHAPE lab.
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