Dead Men’s Eyes: The Use of Augmented Reality in Archaeology

Stuart Eve (University College London, L – P : Archaeology)

One of the great challenges in archaeology is reconstructing past perception and social behaviour. Some pioneering archaeologists have attempted to explore these issues through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), however, their approaches have almost exclusively been based on vision, and analysis confined to the computer laboratory. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other equally pioneering archaeologists have sought to explore the ancient landscape through the use of phenomenology – conducting their research within the landscape itself. To these scholars, computer analysis away from the landscape is anathema and totally at variance with their objectives.

The opportunities offered by the new technology of Augmented Reality provide a way to combine the strengths of a computer-based approach (reproducibility, experimentation, computer reconstruction) with archaeological phenomenology (embodied experience in the field).

Augmented Reality allows the melding of the virtual world with the real world, via the use of a head-mounted display or a handheld device, such as an iPad. Sights and sounds can be provided to the user via the interface to enable them to see into the past and to experiment with possible reconstructions and encounters with the past, in-situ.

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