Virtual Archaeology Review <p style="text-align: justify;">The <strong><em>Virtual Archaeology Review</em> (VAR)</strong> is an international web-based, open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Its focus is a mix of arts and engineering that research on the new field of virtual archaeology. The journal is broadly interdisciplinary, publishing works by scholars in the fields of conservation, documentation, 3D surveying, computer science, dissemination, gaming and other similar disciplines related to heritage and archaeology.</p> en-US <p><a href="" rel="license"><img src="" alt="Creative Commons License" /></a></p> <p>This journal is licensed under a <a href="" rel="license">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License</a>.</p> (Prof. José Luis Lerma) (Administrador PoliPapers) Fri, 19 Jan 2024 13:18:52 +0100 OJS 60 Spatial and hydrological analysis of the water supply system in as-Sila'/Sela (Tafila, Jordan) based on a 3D model <p class="VARAbstract"><span lang="EN-GB">The research described below proposes a spatial analysis of the hydraulic infrastructure, and settlement remains, as well as a topographic analysis of the site of as-Sila'/Sela on the southern Transjordan plateau. The authors designed Sela's first photogrammetric model from aerial photographs provided by the "Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (APAAME)" project. This modelling has enabled the research team to locate new hydraulic structures, settlement remains, marks on vertical facing, and elevated or levelling platforms hitherto unidentified by a pedestrian survey; it was also possible to obtain more detailed direct and indirect relationships between these features. The 3D model has provided a reference for locating the various elements and correlating their surface with the topographic coordinates recorded by the total station during fieldwork. Additionally, a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) was derived from the 3D model to depict the flow direction of run-off. Through our analysis, we identified spaces for accessing, managing, and utilising available water resources, including settlement density and flooding zones. The hydrological analysis revealed potential run-off and flood-prone areas, guiding the location of hydraulic structures to prevent water contamination. This study highlights the importance of Sela's water supply systems and the technical expertise of ancient communities in their construction and management. The applicability and feasibility of the applied methodology emphasise its use as a powerful and indispensable tool to obtain a complete overview of the site. The results yield a comprehensive site mapping with a broader scope than previous research and provide a basis for further research, as well as for understanding the site's water supply and settlement patterns. Thus, this study enhances the hydro-technological investigation of Sela's water management and culture and contributes to its holistic analysis. Future studies can use the data to propose effective water management strategies and shed light on the social structures involved in water supply practices.</span></p> Roser Marsal, Jesús García-Carpallo Copyright (c) 2023 Virtual Archaeology Review Wed, 06 Dec 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Thinking through the tool: collaborative archaeological bodywork in immersive virtual reality <p>Thanks to currently available very high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) models via photogrammetric techniques as a primary method of archaeological documentation, constructing immersive, high-fidelity simulacra is imminently possible. This paper considers how the scale at which the human body interacts with immersive digital models is especially important for understanding the affordances and ergonomics of past things and places. The implications of this isometry between archaeological objects of analysis and emerging capabilities to interact with them through digital surrogates in the present are manifold. By enabling interaction with objects and contexts in immersive virtual space, such observational experiences create in silico engagements that are repeatable, distributable, and collaborative. In particular, it is the collaborative capacity of this technology that this paper explores using online immersive virtual reality (iVR). Collaborative online iVR is used in this research as a key instrument for enhancing understanding and reinterpreting the digital records of two archaeological sites under excavation in Peru. The case studies analyzed show a variety of cultural, geographic, and temporal contexts in the Andean region, which illustrates the broad potential of iVR for archaeological hermeneutics. Through iVR frameworks, the authors engage with embodied reconsiderations of Catholic ritual spaces within a planned colonial town in the southern Peruvian highlands and the pre-Columbian site of Huaca Colorada on the north coast. Synchronous scalar experiences that privilege the affordances of architectural space within digital models create opportunities for embodied experience and collaborative dialogue. A fundamental argument is the capacity to digitally inhabit these places and manipulate materials holds subtle as well as profound epistemological and hermeneutic implications for archaeological knowledge construction.</p> Giles Spence Morrow, Steven A. Wernke Copyright (c) 2023 Virtual Archaeology Review Fri, 24 Nov 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Deformation and degradation study using point clouds in natatio of the Western Baths at La Alcudia in Elche (Alicante) <p>This paper deals with the study of construction and geometry, as well as with the analysis of deformations and active degradations of the <em>natatio</em> belonging to the Western Baths in La Alcudia archaeological site. Its location in Elche-Alicante, Spain (Colonia <em>Iulia Ilici Augusta</em>), is widely known for the discovery of The Lady of Elche in 1897. The dimensions of this <em>natatio</em> in the <em>frigidarium</em> are 6.60 x 9.30 m (22 x 31 Roman feet) and 1.50 m deep, making it one of the largest Roman swimming pools documented to date on the Iberian Peninsula. The <em>natatio</em> has several cracks sealed with materials used in earlier interventions at the end of the third century. Its comparison with the hypothetical original form allowed the researchers to quantify the current deformations. A damage evolution study has been made comparing the 2016 point cloud with the 2022 cloud, both obtained by light detection and ranging (LIDAR). There is evidence that an active process of degradation and deformation is gradually increasing damage to the pool. By studying the geometry and constructive systems of the <em>natatio</em>, relevant data to understand the historical evolution of the Western Baths have been provided. A results analysis conclusion is that the pool was built in two different stages. The eastern half corresponds to the original <em>natatio</em>, while the western half was extended or rebuilt after having collapsed. The early abandonment of the use of the <em>natatio</em> was most likely due to deformations caused by differential settlement; this occurred when the western half was cemented on landfill between the ancient wall and that of the last third of the 1st century AD.</p> José Antonio Huesca-Tortosa, María del Rosario Pacheco-Mateo, Mercedes Tendero-Porras, David Torregrosa-Fuentes, Yolanda Spairani-Berrio Copyright (c) 2024 Virtual Archaeology Review Wed, 10 Jan 2024 00:00:00 +0100 Archeohandi: protocol for a national disabilities database in archaeology in France <p>The archaeology of disability is a relatively recent and little-known approach in France. While the study of palaeopathology now goes hand in hand with funerary archaeology and osteoarchaeology, the French study of disabilities and disabling pathologies remains marginal and unevenly treated, depending on location, chronology and researcher’s interest. This paper focuses on highlighting the compatibility between this new research area, the obligations of osteoarchaeology, and the benefits of developing a national, diachronic, and interdisciplinary study. A database is designed within an interpretive, consensual framework, that can be adapted to overcome limitations and promote open-minded research on the care of the disabled in their own communities. A preliminary category selection of disabling pathologies has been made. These are trepanation, completely edentulous and/or compensating denture, neuronal impairment, severe scoliosis, Paget's disease, Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH), rickets, dwarfism, infectious diseases, unreduced fracture, amputation, severe degenerative disease and others. This list has been critically reviewed by experts in the field; it will evolve in a somewhat Darwinian fashion. Our database is hosted on the Huma-Num platform, with a management interface and quick access based on multiple tabs. The data includes information about archaeological operations, subjects, and pathologies; it is complemented by pictorial data stored on the Nakala platform. The development involved creating a prototype using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, and PHP, with features to display, add, modify, and delete operations and subjects. Enhancements have been made, including search optimization, charts, and the ability to export data in CSV format. The database, whose administrative interface can be accessed at, contains so far 211 existing operations with a total of 1232 registered subjects spread throughout metropolitan France. These initial data reveal numerous research perspectives in osteoarchaeology that can be combined with other research topics, such as virtual reality.</p> Rozenn Colleter, Valérie Delattre, Cyrille Le Forestier, Alex Baiet, Philippe Blanchard, Fanny Chenal, Anne-Sophie Coupey, Stéphanie Desbrosse-Degobertière, Sylvie Duchesne, Cécile Durin, Jean-Luc Gisclon, Noémie Gryspeirt, Fanny La Rocca, Raphaëlle Lefebvre, Jérôme Livet, Cécile Paresys, Mikaël Rouzic, Isabelle Souquet, Florence Tane, Aminte Thomann, Ivy Thomson, Émilie Trébuchet, Marie-Cécile Truc, Jean-Baptiste Barreau Copyright (c) 2023 Virtual Archaeology Review Tue, 05 Dec 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Beyond the walls: the design and development of the Petralona Cave virtual museum utilising 3D technologies <p>The Petralona Cave, which local inhabitants discovered by chance in 1959, is a remarkable natural and cultural landmark close to the village of Petralona, in the Chalkidiki peninsula of Greece. The site has gained global recognition for the discovery of a remarkably well-preserved Palaeolithic human skull, unearthed in 1960; it also holds archaeological and palaeontological significance. In this paper, the researchers introduce the Petralona Cave Virtual Museum: an innovative project whose mission is to increase public awareness and comprehension of the site. Our approach goes beyond mere replication of the physical museum located close to the cave; instead, the objective is to create an independent and comprehensive experience that is accessible to all visitors, irrespective of their ability to visit the site in person. Our methodology involved the documentation of the site and its history, analysis of user requirements, development of use cases to steer the design process, as well as architectural designs creation, itineraries and findings digitisation, and architectural structure finalisation. The Virtual Museum provides a well-organised frame structure that serves as an efficient gateway to the content, making navigation easy for visitors. Thanks to various presentation methods, including videos, high-quality images, interactive maps, animated content, interactive 3D models, plus searchable item libraries, among others, users are empowered to create a highly personalised navigation plan; thus the Virtual Museum experience is comparable to visiting the physical museum or cultural site. Cutting-edge digitisation techniques were employed to create highly detailed 3D models of the site. The Petralona Cave Virtual Museum is expected to offer an immersive experience, engaging diverse audiences; the interactive and educational exploration provides highly innovative access to archaeological knowledge. The visibility of the Petralona site is amplified and there is a significant contribution to knowledge dissemination about this important cultural heritage site.</p> Elli Karkazi, Athanassios Athanassiou, Andreas Darlas, Panagiotis Tokmakidis, Emmanouil K. Tzimtzimis, Vicky Chatziparadeisi, Ioannis Aspiotis, George Triantafyllakos, Charisios Achillas, Dimitrios Aidonis, Dimitrios Tzetzis, Dionysis Bochtis Copyright (c) 2023 Virtual Archaeology Review Thu, 21 Dec 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Use of photogrammetry to survey Iron Age rock art motifs in the Côa Valley: the Vermelhosa Rock 3 case study (Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Portugal) <p>The Côa Valley, listed as a World Heritage site since 1998, presents over 1200 open-air engraved rock panels. The<br />Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley has meticulously documented these rock art motifs, employing various techniques including direct tracing processes on the rocks, using both natural and artificial lighting. However, this intensive work is highly demanding, especially considering that many of the rocks are not easily accessible. In the context of the "Open Access Rock Art Repository" (RARAA) project, this paper presents a methodology for the three-dimensional (3D) survey of rocks with rock art motifs, as well as the subsequent production of orthophotos from the resulting 3D models, accomplished through photogrammetry. These orthophotos serve as the foundation for the vector drawing of the motifs. Remarkably, the level of detail captured in these records has shown that most of the motifs are visible and can be accurately represented through the orthophotos. This has significantly reduced the time required for field surveys. However, in certain cases where specific small areas of the panel are affected by challenging lighting conditions, further fieldwork is still necessary, analogous to the direct tracing process. Additionally, this study introduces an information system designed to integrate the vector graphics and the motifs characterisation data; this supports enhanced research in the area and promotes improved open access for potential reuse in new interpretations or integration into future projects. By creating highly detailed 3D models, the authors complement the two-dimensional drawings of the surfaces and ensure the digital preservation of both the rocks and the associated iconography. These records serve as highly detailed digital surrogates that facilitate the monitoring efforts of the rocks and motifs; they also guarantee the availability of valuable resources for future research and analysis, even if natural or deliberate changes occur.</p> Natália Botica, Luís Luís, Paulo Bernardes Copyright (c) 2023 Virtual Archaeology Review Mon, 06 Nov 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Digital enhancement and photogrammetric recording of La Joquera Levantine rock art (Borriol, Castelló) <p>The heritage values of Levantine rock art, as UNESCO World Heritage since 1998 and as an Asset of Cultural Interest since 1985 according to the Spanish Heritage Act, together with its fragile nature, demand developing initiatives aimed at regularly revisiting and monitoring the sites and updating any existing records (descriptions, tracings, photographs, etc.). This is especially important for long-known sites, such as La Joquera, discovered and first graphically recorded in 1930 and for which these records have not been updated for decades. Such revisits should be aimed to: a) asses the integrity of the finds since their discovery or since the last revision; b) test whether current digital technologies can improve previous interpretations and reproductions of the art preserved there; and c) produce accurate three-dimensional (3D) photorealistic models that capture the 3D nature of this heritage and even improve the visualisation of motifs. These integral approaches are relevant to the qualitative and quantitative study of the art, as well as to its preservation and monitoring, and creation of digital archives to ensure a virtual future for Levantine art. This paper reports the technologies and methods used, the challenges faced (in terms of space available, lighting restrictions and the visual interference caused by the protective fence), and the results obtained at La Joquera rock art site as part of the 2D and 3D digital recording of the rock surface, the colour and the motifs depicted. Highlights of this paper include the identification of previously invisible weaponry and adornments of the only archer preserved on this site, as well as some other incomplete remains. Deliverables also include the production of a photorealistic model on which colour-intensified tracings are projected. This facilitates the identification of art that is now extremely faded and offers a closer look at what the site may have looked like originally.</p> Inés Domingo, Peyman Javadi, Dídac Roman Copyright (c) 2024 Virtual Archaeology Review Mon, 15 Jan 2024 00:00:00 +0100 Web-based platform to collect, share and manage technical data of historical systemic architectures: the Telegraphic Towers along the Madrid-Valencia path <p>Considering the variety of architectural Cultural Heritage typologies, systemic architectures require specific attention in the recovery process. The dimensions of "extension" and "recurrence" at geographic and technological levels affect the complexity of their knowledge process; they require systematic ways for their categorisation and comprehension to guarantee correct diagnosis and suitable rehabilitation. Recent applications involving Internet of Things (IoT) for the built Cultural Heritage have demonstrated the potentialities of three-dimensional (3D) geographic information system (GIS) models and structured databases in supporting complex degrees of knowledge for technicians, as well as management for administrators. Starting from such experiences, the work presents the setting up of a web-based platform to support the knowledge and management of systemic architectures, considering the geographical distribution of fabrics, natural and anthropic boundary conditions, and technical and administrative details. The platform takes advantage of digital models, machine and deep learning procedures and relational databases, in a GIS-based environment, for the recognition and categorisation of prevalent physical and qualitative features of systemic architectures, the recognition and qualification of dominant and recurrent decays and the management of recovery activities in a semi-automatic way. Specifically, the main digital objects used for testing the applied techniques and setting up the platform are based on Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and mapped point clouds of the historical Telegraphic Towers located along the Madrid-Valencia path, resulting from the on-site investigations. Their choice is motivated by the high level of knowledge about the cases reached in the last years by the authors, allowing them to test rules within the decision support systems and innovative techniques for their decay mapping. As the experience has demonstrated, the systematisation of technical details and operative pipeline of methods and tools allow the normalisation and standardisation of the intervention selection process; this offers policymakers an innovative tool based on traditional procedures for conservation plans, coherent with a priority-based practice.</p> Margherita Lasorella, Pasquale de-Dato, Elena Cantatore Copyright (c) 2024 Virtual Archaeology Review Wed, 10 Jan 2024 00:00:00 +0100 Approaches to the archaeological landscape in the South American lowlands: a GIS study in the northeast of Buenos Aires (Argentina) <p>Regional archaeological research focusing on landscape was developed in the southern sector of Punta Indio (northeast of Buenos Aires province, Argentina). That sector, which covers an area of 722 km<sup>2</sup> (Figure 1), had limited archaeological backgrounds. During fieldwork, systematic prospections were performed, by which four sites linked to hunter-gatherer groups were registered: <em>Los Tres Ombúes</em>, <em>El Puesto</em>, <em>Don Enrique</em> and <em>Corral del Indio </em>(Figure 2), of which the first two were excavated. By integrating the obtained data, it was made possible to understand this sector as a part of the landscape inhabited by hunter-gatherer groups in the Late Holocene (1110-260 years C14 BP; 982-1796 years cal.). This article, on the one hand, aims to present the results of several analyses performed through Geographic Information Systems (GIS), based on original spatial information obtained by an archaeological approach at the southern sector of Punta Indio, as well as its regional context. On the other hand, it focuses on discussing the contributions of this approach to the research of the Late Holocene archaeological landscape in the northeast of Buenos Aires province (Argentina).</p> <p>The methodological strategy consisted of complementary GIS-based analyses: visibility, mobility, and suitability areas estimation. Three scales were defined for these analyses: the archaeological site, a local study sector and a wider area of 12.000 km<sup>2 </sup>corresponding to the regional scale.</p> <p>For each considered site, visibility conditions and accessibility to the immediate surroundings were analysed. Regarding visibility, results showed similarities between <em>Los tres Ombúes</em> and <em>Don Enrique</em>, both located on the <em>Río de la Plata</em> coastal plain. From these places, a large portion of the plain is potentially observable. In addition, the visibility conditions of the sites linked to the <em>Samborombón</em> river -<em>El Puesto</em> and <em>Corral del Indio-</em> encompass the watercourse and its surroundings, including the mouths of tributary streams and nearby lagoons (Figure 3). The accessibility to the last sites immediate surroundings proves there was easy access to the river in half an hour duration routes. Moreover, the sites of the Rio de la Plata coastal plain evidence immediate access to the estuarine coast, as well as to minor courses that flow here (Figure 4). According to the obtained model, the distances, easy to walk within half an hour to three hours, could imply access to neighbouring sites. The archaeological places considered for this study are separated from each other by longer distances. However, some of these show relations with others in the area. As the accessibility maps indicate, all the long-range mobility isochrones imply a wider reach than the study sector.</p> <p>Also, the formulation of transit areas from the optimal routes obtained by GIS (Figures 5-6) allowed us to inquire about the sector mobility and the wider area involving the integration of obtained results with the archaeological knowledge of adjacent areas. The transit areas show the importance that the <em>Río de la Plata</em> estuary and the <em>Samborombón</em> river coastlines, as the <em>Salado </em>river coast, could have had for the human groups’ mobility. In addition, a multicriteria evaluation with regional scope (Figure 7, Tables 1-2) allowed us to obtain a present-day location aptitude model of the inhabited places in the landscape; consequently, it was possible to explore the environment variables possibly linked to the settlement modalities.</p> <p>Even though archaeological sites are located in some of the higher altitude points in the landscape, the sample does not show a strong influence of the net altitude (Figure 8). Therefore, relative altitude regarding the close surroundings could have had a bigger influence on the site's location. The places showed good visibility conditions and good accessibility to the immediate surroundings, which imply watercourses and bodies that were possibly travelled during the inhabitants’ daily activities. They could have also been linked in mobility nets related to social interaction networks inferred for these groups, which could have mutually visited with different and multiple purposes. According to suitability areas estimation, the sector sites are related to very suitable conditions. That is also verified in the wider area, where the distribution shows a strong link with very suitable locations, near watercourses and bodies or to the <em>Río de la Plata</em> coastline.</p> <p>As the <em>Samborombón</em> and <em>Salado </em>rivers eventually suffered water excesses, possibly the regional mobility could have had a seasonal component. Also, results suggest that the coast constituted a main route in the northeast of Buenos Aires. Even though the coastline is highly dynamic and presents an accessible and inaccessible sectors alternation, there are nearby shell ridges -longitudinal elevations that probably facilitated human movement in the past.</p> <p>GIS-based methods essentially helped to understand the Late Holocene archaeological landscape in the northeast of Buenos Aires. This enabled an original interpretation of the landscape considering four factors: the characteristics of the inhabited places, the practices of the hunter-gatherer groups, the settlement modalities and the movements of those groups across the landscape. Consequently, the authors highlight their potential for hunter-gatherer research in South American lowlands contexts.</p> Naiquen M. Ghiani Echenique, Andrés Jakel Copyright (c) 2024 Virtual Archaeology Review Tue, 16 Jan 2024 00:00:00 +0100 The fortified defence of the west of the Santaver Cora through geographic information systems (GIS): a multidisciplinary study <p>In recent years, archaeological, historical and geographical research assisted by Geographical Information Systems (GIS) has shown relevant results. However, the area of study proposed in this paper, together with the historical context chosen, has lacked specific multidisciplinary research that brings together the three disciplines aforementioned. This article presents analyses carried out using QGIS software. It also explains and contrasts the results obtained with the archaeological studies and fieldwork.</p> <p>The study area chosen here belonged to the westernmost territories of the ancient "cora de Santaver". The Order of Santiago inherited these territories at a later date. Currently, the territory coincides with La Mancha of Toledo and Cuenca. The proposed chronology starts in the 10<sup>th</sup> century, with the Muslims settled in the Iberian Peninsula. And it ends in the 16<sup>th </sup>century, a time after the Christian population was definitively established in the area. This chronology was chosen because it allows researchers to evaluate the role of the fortifications from their origin until their integration after the Christian conquest.</p> <p>The methodology applied has made possible to locate 86 fortifications of different types over an area of more than 5000 km<sup>2</sup>. These were built by the Andalusi population between the 10<sup>th</sup> and 12<sup>th</sup> centuries. GIS analyses were carried out on these fortifications. They consisted of visibility basins, intervisibility networks and heat maps.</p> <p>The results showed that the fortresses visually controlled the entire territory. This made it difficult to conquer. Entering this territory riddled with fortresses did not allow any medieval army to conquer the capital: Uclés. The GIS study has made it possible to evaluate the defensive patterns created. One of these patterns shows the existence of towers capable of observing over a long distance: 50 km. These towers sequentially connect to other fortresses that have a shorter visual range. This network of fortresses not only defined patterns of territorial defence, but also of occupation of the territory. The distribution of these buildings shows where the population preferred to live, as many of these fortresses were associated with places of habitation. It also reveals where they feared their enemies would approach or where they obtained the resources they most desired.</p> <p>It has also been possible to stipulate a typology of the fortresses, common constructive elements and their functions. The fortifications observed are two <em>qaṣr</em>, one <em>munya</em>, one <em>ma'qil</em>, two <em>qal'a</em>, five <em>qarya</em>, two <em>qaṣabah</em>, ten <em>ṭalā'i'</em> and the rest have been identified as <em>husûn</em>. </p> <p>It is proven that the fortresses were simple buildings. They were built to protect the population and their resources, as well as for communication purposes. They were built on rocky crags that were not the highest in the area, but were the best visually connected to neighbouring fortresses. They were built on a flattened stone surface and used a 'zarpa' to regulate the ground. Their walls were made of stone or mudwall. They used reddish mortar made from clays. It has also been shown that all of them acted as communicating elements: a good example of this is the name Añador (<em>an-nāẓūr</em>). And they must have communicated with fire as suggested by the word <em>al-manāra</em>.</p> <p>Definitely, this network of fortresses was created to be a deterrent effect in itself, being difficult to go through for any medieval army.</p> <p>In sum, the use of GIS provided a simple, useful, and powerful tool for analysing historical defences within the defined cora de Santaver territories. It delivered concrete data that can be checked by fieldwork and synthesises huge amounts of information that would be neglected or misunderstood if they were analysed by smaller portions of territory, as sometimes happens when a small meaningless area is used as a representative pattern of occupation for bigger territories.</p> Leonor Parra-Aguilar Copyright (c) 2024 Virtual Archaeology Review Mon, 15 Jan 2024 00:00:00 +0100