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What We Do

page updated December 28, 2007
LEARNING SITES designs and develops interactive three-dimensional digital models that are based on actual archaeological evidence and that are reconstructed with an accuracy and sensitivity to known details that reflect the highest standards of scholarship.  We integrate archaeological data with advanced computer graphics techniques to further education, data analysis, and the preservation of cultural heritage information.  Our vision is to create a globally integrated and interactive system of linked virtual worlds that can be used for teaching, research, archaeological fieldwork, museum exhibitions, and even tourism.

WE believe that since the past happened in 3D, we should be using 3D re-creations of the past in order to learn better the events, peoples, and places of the past. We believe that through judicious use of current and emerging technologies we can preserve our cultural heritage not just in two dimensions but in full and accurate three dimensions, so that knowledge of the past can continue to educate, inform, and excite present and future generations.

THREE-dimensional digital databases are dynamic media that can promote awareness of past civilizations, understanding of different cultures, and appreciation of different places, peoples, and their cultural development.  Computer technology can reunite elements from disparate locations into a single model, creating a near first-hand experience of an ancient world in its original complexity. When those elements are linked to text and image databases--as in LEARNING SITES virtual worlds--the user learns about history, construction, decoration, or daily life with a click of the mouse.  LEARNING SITES offers products and services employing virtual worlds as teaching tools, research aids, museum exhibition enhancements, archaeological site interpretation center displays, and global information banks.

LEARNING SITES is currently developing methods for accurately recording and reconstructing sites and monuments in digital and multimedia records.  These records not only extend the life of the original documentation and preserve cultural heritage information but also, being digital, can today become immediately accessible globally and equally by educators, researchers, and students.

THE culmination of our work is to be a series of linked virtual environments creating first-person experiences of ancient cultures for the exploring observer.  For example, our view of the future classroom includes three-dimensional digital libraries that provide virtual environments for the place, time, or culture being studied.  Virtual reality can enhance students' learning by:

  • Offering vicarious first-hand experiences otherwise beyond their reach or their school's ability to provide.
  • Providing interaction with geographically or temporally remote locations, people, or objects.
  • Providing information at levels of detail tailored to individual needs.
SCHOOLS will find the computer-linked future classroom financially efficient as well.  With access to online teaching materials, each school system need not compile complete sets of instructional materials or full libraries, in the traditional sense; with worldwide connections, a virtual environment (utilizing Web 2.0 social network tools) will link students voice-to-voice and eye-to-eye with the best instructors and teaching aids in the world.

WE are launching new publication formats for archaeological reporting in which hypertext-linked virtual worlds are the visual, three-dimensional indexes to publications.  A linked visual index offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing access to information either linearly, via conventional text-based browsing, or nonlinearly, via image queries.  The design of Java-based electronic thesauri for filtering search queries in currently underway.

ENLARGING this picture further, we envision that not only education and the tourism industry will benefit but also that archaeology itself will be radically changed.  Digital documentation methods allow fieldwork results to be entered directly into bi-directional databases as excavation progresses.  Field archaeologists will be able to access virtual worlds during excavation, as well as feeding new data into the system, which will automatically update the online teaching aids.

THUS, eventually, architects, archaeologists, artists, engineers, educators, computer technicians, software designers, and telecommunications experts will collaborate in constructing multidimensional libraries that will become the foundations of the envisioned interactive virtual environments.

(scroll down to access some of our early and current projects)

Demonstration Projects  &  Virtual Worlds
LEARNING SITES has produced several demonstration projects and virtual worlds, both as educational aids and research tools.  We continue to reconstruct additional sites and to lead in the development of accurate and innovative archaeological visualizations.
Sample Early Projects (developed by Bill Riseman, 1989-1994)
Giza, mastaba field
Gebel Barkal composite image
Sun Temple complex, Meroe
Aspelta's Tomb, Nuri

Sample Transitional Demonstration Projects (developed by Bill Riseman, Donald Sanders, and LEARNING SITES, 1994-1995)
Fortress of Buhen
      • The Sanctuary of King Antiochus I, Nemrud Dagi, Turkey
Nemrud Dagi,, East Terrace

Sample Current Products (developed by LEARNING SITES, 1995-2011)

Gebel Barkal, Temple B300
Vari House
      • Tsoungiza, Ancient Nemea, Greece (all-digital excavation report)
House A, Tsoungiza
Kapure false door
Northwest Palace - Northern Courtyard
      • Paliké, Sicily, Italy (the hestiaterion or dining hall; visitors' center display)
hestiaterion/dining hall
      • Al-Meragh, Sudan (ancient Nubian village; research tool)
Meragh double house
    • Seyitomer, Turkey (Hellenistic settlement; Digital Site Seer project)
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