|for shaping 3-D terrain surfaces, while the Autodesk 3D Studio MAX and Adobe Photoshop 5.0 were proposed for rendering the wireframe model. Budget limitations have predetermined the choice for ArcView 3.1 as a GIS tool. According to the “GIS and archaeology” survey conducted a few years ago (Moscati 1999) these software solutions seem to be the most popular for projects carried out within the framework of research institutions,.
3.2. Model construction
The Kiafar project consists of a number of elements:
1. the DTM of the site and the adjacent area,
2. the models of the surviving architectural structures of the site,
3. the vegetation map of the Kiafar area,
4. the hydrological map,
5. the geological map,
6. the soil map and
7. the relatively extensive database of photos, video clips, textual descriptions.
All of these elements are to be integrated in an interactive GIS environment with VRML and HTML support, providing a viewer instant access to all types of data simultaneously. The viewer is encouraged to freely seek his position, and navigate anywhere within Kiafar’s virtual environment (or archaeoreality), and explore the relative database organized with full hyperlink, cgi-script support. One of the key concepts of the proposed virtual reality is to eliminate any pre-programmed patterns of the viewer – constructed environment interactions and his engagement in the process of negotiation and interpretation of the modelled archaeoreality.
To date, we have completed only two stages of the Kiafar project, i.e. we have generated the digital terrain and architectural structures wireframe models. The 1:500-scale hardcopy of the topographical plan with a 1m contour line interval became the basis for the DTM. The contours, after being digitized, resulted in a set of polylines, that were used to create a triangular irregulated net (TIN). The TIN in turn served as the base for an elevation grid with 1x1 meter cells. We consider such a grid resolution the most appropriate for the needs of the relief model, because a less detailed elevation grid would not reflect all the peculiarities of the micro-relief, while a denser one would offer no substantial additional information. The 1x1 meter celled grid coincides with the original topographic plan of 1m contour line intervals. Unlike the TIN, such an elevation grid is a regular one. Hence, the architectural structures under consideration can be adequately placed in the DTM (figure 5).
After the final DTM was completed, the problem of possible errors in the course of modelling arose. The possible voids in the initial contour lines data could lead to artificial non-existent slopes/elevations, and various holes may appear on the DTM. In order to check this, we generated contour lines on the basis of the elevation grid and compared them with those of the original plan. Beyond expectation, all the virtual and original contours coincided. At the next stage 3-D wireframe models of all the architectural structures were created and referred to the DTM.
The resulting wireframe model of the Kiafar township was merged with that of the local micro-region based on a 1:100,000-scale map covering 16 square km (figure 6).
Though the project is far from being completed, even this preliminary model contributed significantly to the intra-site spatial analysis, enabling us to re-estimate the vertical juxtaposition of structures, examine the zone structure of the site, single out compounds and types of buildings within them and discriminate between residential, administrative and economic areas of Kiafar. The true potential of the virtual environment is to be exploited with a final model.
The VR application in archaeology is one of the most rapidly developing sections of this discipline. At the same time the mainstream efforts are dominated by the notion of increasing realism of details. I consider this approach to VR as thoroughly assembled replicas of reality to be misleading and eventually leading to a dead-end. Alternative conceptualization of VR as a two-step interpretation (at the data recording and data processing stages), rather than representation of initial archaeoreality is introduced. VR is proposed to be regarded as a dual system, involving a perceiving subject and an object of knowledge. In order to exist and function, this system engages an active and mobile researcher freely negotiating with and interpreting archaeological data through a medium – a VR model. The concept of realism, as well as authenticity and faithfulness of generated models, is suggested to be