Modern Archeological Mapping: Towards Immersive VR Use in Archeology
Detailed mapping is essential to systematic archeological practice and is conducted in five stages: identification, evaluation and excavation, site preservation and documentation, analysis and interpretation, and education. As archeological mapping evolves the five stages remain the same, enhanced by the integration of new geoinformation technologies to better record archeological information. Even with technological advances essential spatial data and mapping products are often overlooked when archeological information reaches the education stage. This disconnect occurs when artefacts are exhibited without considering communicating spatial context, i.e. presented behind glass cabinets. This is a critical concern as understanding spatial context is essential to grasping heritage site histories. As a solution to this wide-reaching issue in geovisualization and the digital humanities, this research proposes a framework for developing immersive virtual reality heritage site applications that preserve the spatial context of archeological mapping. Applying the framework, this research produced the heritage site application “VR Riverbend”, which successfully relinks archeological materials with essential spatial context. Thus, VR Riverbend connects archeological data with place, remedying issues of artefact/context disconnect inherent in traditional exhibits. Developing immersive VR heritage site applications following the introduced framework provides a solution towards effective spatial and often multi-layered archeological heritage site education.