Digitization and virtual reality projects in archaeological heritage. The case of the archaeological site of Motilla del Azuer in Daimiel (Ciudad Real)

Miguel Torres Mas, Víctor Manuel López-Menchero Bendicho, Julio López Tercero, Juan Torrejón Valdelomar, Herbert Maschner


This article presents the virtualization project of the Motilla del Azuer archaeological site in Daimiel (Ciudad Real, Spain). This project is using new and unique tools for the research, documentation, interpretation and dissemination of this important prehistoric site. The incorporation of advanced technological tools in the field of archaeological and cultural heritage, such as digital documentation and virtual reality (VR), are creating new avenues for managing cultural legacies. Modern advances in 3D digitization and VR allow the application of these techniques on a wide range of cultural assets with different characteristics and chronologies, opening a broad spectrum of new possibilities in research, education, and public outreach. This is an expanding area of heritage management as it creates a positive impact on the economic, cultural and social activities of local communities and regions. Because of these positive impacts, more and more stakeholders such as institutions, administrations, and heritage organisations are taking an active interest in this sector of technological development. In the case of the Motilla del Azuer archaeological site, the digitization and virtualization work undertaken, along with other dissemination activities, have provided critical products for the presentation, interpretation, and promotion of this monument.

La Motilla del Azuer is one of the most unique archaeological sites in Spain. Dating from the Bronze Age, it is a fortification with a central plan, formed by three lines of concentric walls distributed around a central tower (Fig. 2). Inside, the labyrinthine shape of the access systems is remarkable, made up of narrow corridors, stairs, ramps... This defensive enclosure allowed the protection and control of essential products for the people of the Bronze Age. Its true uniqueness is that it encloses monumental water well more than 15 m deep.

La Motilla del Azuer is open to the public and receives thousands of visitors each year. But for conservation reasons, the number of people who can access the site is highly controlled. Likewise, due to its defensive nature and its age, it is a space through which it is difficult to circulate, which makes it impossible for people with reduced mobility to visit. For these and other reasons, the Daimiel City Council in collaboration with the US non-profit entity Global Digital Heritage and the Spanish company Myou Software, has developed a project to digitize the archaeological site and make it accessible through an installed VR system, located permanently in the Daimiel Museum, the interpretation centre for the site (Fig. 10). This facility is designed to be used both by people in wheelchairs or with reduced mobility, as well as all visitors to the museum, and provides a realistic virtual tour of the site. To achieve this level of realism, a detailed 3D digitization of the site using photogrammetry, laser scanning, and 3D spherical photography was undertaken, and a VR installation based on the use of an HTC Vive Pro device that has motion controllers for hands (HTC Vive controllers) and feet (HTC Vive Trackers) was developed. The primary software is called Myou Engine, an open-source 3D engine compatible with XR, developed by the Myou Software company. In order to increase the immersiveness as much as possible, the Myou Software company has also developed a control system called Natural Locomotion that works by moving the arms and legs (Fig. 11).

The final result of the project has allowed the implementation of an innovative VR space that increases accessibility to the archaeological site, represents a new tourist attraction for the town, and promotes new ways of managing and enjoying archaeological heritage.


archaeological heritage; virtual archaeology; digitization; virtual reality; diffusion; heritage tourism

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