MorgantinaVR: Visualizing Material Culture in Virtual and Augmented Reality

Posted by Cole Crawford
Digital Futures Discovery Series, Events

February 7, 2018
11:45am - 12:45pm
Discovery Bar @ Cabot Science Library, Harvard Science Center

Please join us for the first event of 2018 in the Digital Futures Discovery Series, a year-long program led by Harvard's Digital Futures Consortium that explores the ongoing transformation of scholarship through innovative technology. Alex Walthall and Luke Hollis will present MorgantinaVR, a product of the American Excavations at Morgantina: Contrada Agnese Project.

The American Excavations at Morgantina: Contrada Agnese Project at Morgantina (Sicily) is pioneering new methods of visualizing data from its multi-year excavation project, utilizing both virtual and augmented reality to interact with data in new ways.

The project visualizes historically-accurate architectural reconstructions and datasets alongside georeferenced aerial photogrammetry to connect users to ancient culture. Using mobile devices, users can explore the monuments despite only the foundations remaining.

Users who are not onsite at Morgantina can use the HTC Vive, GearVR, and Google Cardboard to explore the ancient buildings that have been lost for over two millennia in virtual reality.

Researchers are also using VR to browse a day-by-day recreation of trench models and 3D rendering of museum and geospatial datasets. This is used to understand the site’s architecture over time.  In the classroom, students are able to explore phasing similarly to gain insight into the different periods of occupation of the Contrada Agnese region at Morgantina.

You can download the MorgantinaVR Beta app for your smartphone here:

The American Excavations at Morgantina: Contrada Agnese Project (CAP), is an ongoing, multiyear research and excavation project launched in 2013 to investigate developments taking place in the urban center of Morgantina between the third and first centuries BCE. Learn more at their website here:

MorgantinaVR was developed in partnership with AEM: CAP by Archimedes Digital. Learn more at their website and read more about the project here:

Following the presentation, please join us in sharing your ideas and questions. We look forward to meeting you.

Alex Walthall is an archaeologist who specializes in the material culture of the ancient Mediterranean region, particularly the archaeology of ancient Sicily. He currently serves as Director of the Contrada Agnese Project (CAP) at Morgantina. For the latest news on the CAP excavations, visit When not in the field, Alex teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is an Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman Archaeology in the Department of Classics. He is a 2017–18 fellow with Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, and is teaching a seminar on the history and archaeology of Sicily this Spring in Harvard’s Department of Classics.

Luke Hollis is the founder of Archimedes Digital, a Cambridge-based startup dedicated to software and mixed reality development for the humanities. Rather than creating software that further distracts and isolates users, the artists, developers, and archivists at Archimedes build applications that connect us to our shared traditions and cultures. Archimedes Digital partners with libraries, museums, and archives as well as sponsors internationally to develop applications for education and cultural heritage across platforms.

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