Vol. VIII, No. 1

May, 1995

Virtual Pompeii exhibit

Carnegie Mellon University, Silicon Graphics, USA, and the Archaeological Institute of America are combining forces to create a virtual reality production based on ancient Pompeii before the eruption of Vesuvius. Personnel from the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon, lead by Carl E. Loeffler, will create a model of portions of Pompeii and enliven the model with Silicon Graphics computers and software.

The portions of Pompeii to be included are the Large Theater, the Samnite Palestra, the Temple of Hercules, the Temple of Isis, and the Triangular Forum.

Professor Anne Weis of Carnegie Mellon and other experts from the Archaeological Institute of America will assist Mr. Loeffler to make certain that the underlying information is accurate. They will use existing plans and photographs of standing walls, and Mr. Loeffler expects to include virtual Pompeiians in ancient attire.

The exhibit will include a head-mounted display system and a large projection system. Some visitors will put on the headset to seem to move freely through the portion of ancient Pompeii included in the model; others will be able to watch images on the projection screen. Visitors who use the headest will control where they go and will be able to look around as if they were truly in ancient Pompeii.

The exhibit will first be mounted in the Silicon Graphics area at the graphics trade show called SIGgraph, this year to be held in Los Angeles in August. The exhibit will then travel to various museums; the schedule is not yet fixed.

Added to the museum exhibit will be materials about the process of creating the model, difficulties of restoration, and possible alternatives. The system will seem so real, that these explanations will be crucial; otherwise visitors might assume that what they have seen is demonstrably accurate.

For other Newsletter articles concerning Pompeii, consult the Subject index.

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