Virtual Archaeology at Ceren

(1998) Collaborators: Jen Lewin, Payson Sheets, Mark Ehrhardt


In the Ceren virtual archaeology* project we reconstructed structures and artifacts at the Joya de Ceren excavation site in El Salvador. First we modeled the structures of this agricultural village and then rendered them onto panoramic images for Web viewing. We linked hot spots on artifacts in the panoramas to a database of field specimens. We made the digital reconstructions available for interactive walkthroughs over the Web as a resource for teaching and learning in a college cultural anthropology course. The result was an interactive Web-based visual environment for studying the Ceren site.

In constructing the model we discovered various ambiguities and inconsistencies in the raw site data and drawings we were provided. We resolved these problems by analysis and reinterpretation of the data, working closely with our archaeologist collaborator. What began as a simple exercise in rendering developed into a collaborative research effort to understand and interpret the source data. Modeling forced us to re-examine, analyze and interpret the information from the site.

1997 Not Just Another Pretty Face: Image and argument in an archaeological web site, Lewin, J., M. Erhardt, and M.D. Gross, Computer Assisted Architectural Design Futures ‘97, R. Junge, ed., Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 635-654. [pdf]

1997 Resolving archaeological site data with 3D computer modeling: The case of Ceren, Lewin, J. and M.D. Gross, J. Automation in Construction, 6(4) 323-334. (first appeared in Proceedings 1996 ACADIA National Conference, Tucson AZ). [pdf]

Jenniffer Lewin, M. Ehrhardt, and M. Gross. 1998. The Ceren Web resource: enabling students to become anthropologists in a virtual site. In ACM SIGGRAPH 98 Conference abstracts and applications (SIGGRAPH ’98). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 42-43. [acm dl link]