Did you know that off the coast of the small polish town of Puck there was once one of the biggest harbours in the Baltic Sea?
Did you know that Hallstatt is Europe´s oldest industrial zone?
Did you know that there are non-visible World Heritage sites in the marsh of Ljubljana?
Did you know that there are unique medieval mines beneath the german town of Dippoldiswalde?
Although the rich and diverse archaeological heritage of central Europe is in parts known and excellently researched, a broad share of this heritage, even of international importance, is very often hardly visible and tangible for the public and faces increasing menaces. The VirtualArch project unveils regional archaeological heritage – located underground or submerged – to local and regional stakeholders that are responsible for economic development. Activities focused on the sustainable use and protection of non-visible and little known archaeological heritage by increasing the capacities of public actors and by introducing innovative visualisation approaches and methods. The project developed innovative and trendsetting visualisation tools in the field of virtual and augmented reality supporting both development and protection of archaeological heritage.
After 3 years of successful transnational cooperation our great project ends with this day! On 25 June all partners met digitally for the last time and shared their results, experiences and future plans for the pilot heritages. Finished papers such as transnational strategies will be uploaded soon.
Together with the company Best Sequence, s.r.o., the Archaeological Heritage Office of Saxony as project lead partner created a video documentation about the project and the virtual archaeology approach. in the video all pilot sites, relevant methods and approaches as well as the results are explained .
Among the diverse offer of the European Archaeology Days, the Archaeological Heritage Office of Saxony together with the MiBERZ Museum organised on two days guided tours with the new VirtualArch apps in Dippoldiswalde. 21 participants, mostly locals, discovered with great joy the inaccessible medieval mines via AR and VR.
Based on the archaeological surveys underground, huge prehistoric mining chambers more than hundred meters deep could be assumed next to modern galleries. Based on a puzzle of archaeological evidence, a 3D model of the Bronze Age mine was reconstructed and visualized using the virtual reality approach. With the help of VR glasses visitors of NHM in Vienna as well as the Salzwelten exhibition in Hallstatt can experience the world of salt mining in Bronze Age and get involved in the ancient workflow by using prehistoric working tools.
For the invisible and inaccessible medieval silver mines under the current town of Dippoldiswalde an augmented reality approach was primarily selected. By scanning markers they could see via the special android mobile application called Medieval MinesAR an interactive town model with its hidden underworld or enter a medieval mine and walk virtually through it. Supplementary to these mobile visualisations, a permanent VR media station in the museum of Dippoldiswalde was installed, where visitors can experience miner’s work using virtual models of archaeological finds exhibited behind them.
Major focus of this pilot heritage was the more abstract visualisation of landscape change of the Ljubljana marshes from the end of Pleistocene to modern times. This will also include infographics about settlement dynamics, from Mesolithic hunter-gatherer camps to the Neolithic and Copper age pile dwellings and late Bronze Age and Iron Age hillforts. The result will serve as a basis for several different products, from landscape change film to the exploration of past landscapes website and AR application. Latter has a special focus on the prehistoric pile dwellings – as UNESCO world heritage the most important heritage in the Region.
Virtual reconstruction of the city of Nitra is focused on its medieval history presented in the Augmented Reality on the spot of the unseen archeological heritage in the urban landscape. Tourists coming to Nitra as well as locals and other stakeholders can see in real life through the smartphone or tablet, the entry gate and Romanesque church in the castle and other sacral architecture in the region. LiDAR scans of the city and surroundings documented smaller fortifications, or hillforts, that were part of the early medieval Nitra. In addition to the 3D models of the architecture, archaeological finds and parts of tangible heritage was visualized.
Based on an extensive GIS platform including all surveyed points of interest in the huge pilot area a progressive web application was created. The app offers tourists hiking trail suggestions, interactive map and 3D model tools, videos about hidden interiors of mines or an augmented reality app visualising 3D models of typical miner´s working tools. The web application can be downloaded from the panels prepared for the project at the Ecomuseo Argentario and from three panels on the paths of Monte Calisio.
A 3D model of the ancient Roman port of Babir, its inhabitants and items were implemented in a virtual tour/ walk through the site, which can be also experienced with VR glasses. A 2D video jointly shows the site in the Roman era and 21st century. Furthermore, a mobile application was developed. Eventually, a local information point will accompany these virtual offers.
A 3D reconstruction of 12th century harbour in Puck Bay was prepared based on multi-beam sonar survey and results of photogrammetry. This model will be made available to visitors of Puck so that they can admire the hidden archaeological heritage which are relics of the sunken port in the Bay of Puck. A virtual model of the harbour was created in the form of an animation. The rendered movie shows an overview of the harbour, medieval buildings, jetties and platforms. The model is the base for a VR media station at the port as well as interactive mobile apps.
In addition to a 3D computer reconstruction of the pilot side, two mobile applications were developed. One serves as an encyclopaedia, combining 3D models of artefacts with 360 degree panoramic views of the abandoned mining settlement, while the other is a virtual thriller game with interactive tasks and riddles, taking place in the 13th century. In the final task an AR application will allow users to explore a reconstructed mine in Utín.