The Digital Pompeii Project

In addition to the digital version of Rome that I found earlier, I was curious to see if any attempts had been made to create a digital model of the ancient city of Pompeii. As it turns out, The University of Arkansas’s Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences has been working on an initiative to digitally model Pompeii as a joint venture with the college’s Department of Humanities, the Classical Studies Program, and the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology. According to the creators: “Its goal is the creation of a comprehensive database for visual art and material culture at Pompeii.”

Amazingly, the group is also creating a digital database in which to store archaeological evidence of visual art recovered from the remains of the city. According to the creators: “We are beginning with the Italian reference workPompei: pitture e mosaici (PPM), scanning all of its plates and entering data for location, style, color, materials, workshop, etc., together with searchable descriptions of paintings and mosaics.” Essentially, the database will be searchable by space, so one can investigate a building and subsequently learn about the artifacts uncovered at that particular location. While based on PPM, however, the database is intended to be scalable, and to incorporate other kinds of data found in the numerous archaeological expeditions throughout the city. The database will be integrated with a navigable 3D model of Pompeii, so that one can “walk” through the recreated city in real time. This will allow for any painting or mosaic (or even wider search results, e.g. “all paintings of” a particular artist) to be viewed and explored in their spatial context, in relation to the surrounding decorations and not simply as a separate pop-up window.

At the moment, the creators have posted online demo models of the House of the Vettii (Regio 6, Insula 15, doorway 1) and the House of the Prince of Naples (Regio 6, Insula 15, doorways 7 and 8) as examples of what is to come in the future. The demos can be viewed here: http://pompeii.uark.edu/DigitalPompeii_Content/Models.html

The hope for the digital model is for it to be integrated into both humanities and archaeological classes at the university so that students can explore it in real time as it is continually updated and expanded. Like Wikipedia or Google 3D Warehouse, the database can be contributed to by independent users with models of varying scales of complexity. The database is organized specifically by region and subdivided by doorway (the Roman equivalent of an address). The project’s overall website can be found here: http://pompeii.uark.edu/

 

 

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