The "Pompei - Insula del Centenario (IX 8) Project". Issues for a Virtual Environment authenticated by archaeologists.
"Virtual archaeology is more than a simple "application" and aims at being a part of the methodology of archaeological research" (NICCOLUCCI 2002).
This paper presents the virtual reconstruction of the Casa del Centenario (Pompei, IX 8, 3.6.a), an experience of profitable collaboration between archaeologists and experts in information technologies, computer graphics, multimedia communications, leading to significant developments in the field of modelling and visualization methodologies for a project of Virtual Archaeology conceived with scientific purposes.
The experience of Virtual Archaeology takes place among the widest scientific activity of "Pompei - Insula del Centenario (IX 8) Project" (SCAGLIARINI CORLÀITA 2001-2002; SCAGLIARINI CORLÀITA, CORALINI 2002), an on-going research project directed by prof. Daniela Scagliarini Corlàita (Dipartimento di Archeologia, Università di Bologna). The "Casa del Centenario" (IX 8, 3.6.a), one of the largest houses in archaeological Pompeii, "was rediscovered in 1879, on the occasion of the eighteenth centennial of the eruption. By that time it appeared to be in a very good state of conservation: although almost all of the roofs were completely caved in, still many floors, wall paintings, and objects - both decorative (such small statues) and utilitarian (such as amphorae, other containers, lamps etc.) - were still in situ. The rediscovery opened a process of dispersion of artefacts and degradation of the structures in situ" (SCAGLIARINI et alii 2001).
The project aims at putting end to this degradation through study, documentation and valorization of both structures and decorations.
The experimentation of CVR (Cultural Virtual Reality: FRISCHER et alii 2002) led by the "Pompei - Insula del Centenario (IX 8) Project" team consists in representing the main visual axe of the domus (which starts from the fauces, across the atrium and the peristylium, up to the large fountain, or nymphaeum) (Fig. 1), in two chronological phases. The result is a double model: the first is an "actual" model, which shows the domus in 2001 A.D.; the second is an "hypothetically restored" model, recreating the architectural structure of the domus as it probably was just before its destruction, in the Vesuvius eruption of 79 A.D. (Figg. 2-3).
The target of the "79 A.D." model is to be a scientifically authenticated and philologically correct reconstruction.
This goal has been pursued through four main issues:
- implementing the most advanced and careful techniques of data acquisition (such as photogrammetry, topographic surveys and chemical analyses of pigments and mortars);
- developing graphic conventions enabling the user to detect the degree of reliability of the integrations;
- giving the archaeologist, who answers for the quality of archaeological information, a coordination role among the scientific and technological team: he "should be in charge of collection of the modeling data, should regularly review the modelmaker's progress, and should be given the opportunity to sign off the final product" (FRISCHER et alii 2002);
- offering other experts of the team a support to test and verify hypotheses and results (for example, the
équipe of structures engineers used the virtual model both to propose the reconstruction of the coverings and to compile the restoration project of the building structures) (SCAGLIARINI, CORALINI 2002). --->