Virtual museum enriched by GIS data to share science and culture. Church of Saint Stephen in Umm Ar-Rasas (Jordan)

Eva Savina Malinverni, Roberto Pierdicca, Francesco Di Stefano, Roberto Gabrielli, Alessandra Albiero

Abstract

Umm ar-Rasas is a Jordan archaeological site, located 30 km southeast of the city of Madaba, in the northern part of Wadi Mujib. It preserves findings dating back the period from the end of 3rd to the 9th century AD and, since 2004, it belongs to the world heritage list of UNESCO. In 2015 a multidisciplinary work was undertaken over the archaeological site, mainly focusing on the Church of Saint Stephen, with the main purpose of enhancing the knowledge and documenting the conservation state of the polychrome mosaic floor, which covers the entire surface of the hall and presbytery. A huge amount of data has been collected, coming from archaeological and historical investigations, geophysics and geodetic inspections and geomatics surveying, which produced also a true orthophoto of the mosaic floor. Data has been organized in a geo-database, facilitating the exchange of information between different actors. Moreover, the management of data within a dedicated Geographic Information System (GIS), has allowed in-depth analysis for understanding the evolution of the iconographic repertoire that, over the centuries, has undergone several disfigurements due to the iconoclastic age. The knowledge of the mosaic has also been vital for the implementation of multimedia applications and for the creation of virtual experiences, in which the information can be conveyed and visualized directly on the virtual reconstruction of the whole archaeological site. The innovation of the proposed work, is therefore in the management of a data flow that can be exploited by different actors through different platforms: experts, thanks to the use of GIS, and visitors with the use of multimedia applications (such as Augmented Reality (AR) or highresolution web visualization) for dissemination purposes, in order to preserve this priceless mankind heritage.

Highlights:

  • Definition of a complete pipeline ranging from data acquisition to visualization in multi-channel multimedia applications.

  • Management of heterogeneous data in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their exploitation in Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR).

  • GIS applied to the archaeological domain for expert and non-expert users.


Keywords

virtual archaeology; digital archaeology; geo-database; cultural heritage; documentation; 3D reconstruction

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