VR in Archaeology

Robert Koch, February 2022


As VR technology has developed in recent years, new attention is being given to its potential applications in fields such as Archaeology. In particular, while VR can already be used to view major archaeological sites for more immersive experiences in education, tourism, or other areas, VR technology is being explored by archaeologists as a potential tool to integrate into their work. Field archaeology already involves the use of remote sensing/LiDAR data as a part of the planning and field work processes, so the next major step in expanding the applicability of VR in Archaeology is translating this existing data into VR-compatible formats and developing tools that will be useful to archaeologists.

Case Study: Dig@IT - VR in Archaeology (Duke University)

The Dig@IT project was developed at Duke University in 2016 and utilizes 3D models of an archaeological dig site (based on photogrammetry, LiDAR, and other technologies) to recreate the Çatalhöyük archaeological site in Anatolia, Turkey. The 3D space is interactive and allows for a greater degree of immersion when analyzing the site.

Read more about the project here.

Highlight: Accessibility in Archaeology

Virtual reality provides great potential for making archaeological sites more accessible for current and future generations. For example, the Lascaux Caves in Motignac, France contains evidence of human activity from around 17,000 years ago, but were closed to the public in 1963. Now, VR is being used as a tool to allow visitors to experience the caves in a more immersive environment than photographs may be able to provide. As VR hardware lowers in price and becomes more accessible to the general public, it can be used as a tool for both archaeological activity and education.