Beyond the walls: the design and development of the Petralona Cave virtual museum utilising 3D technologies




virtual museum, Palaeolithic archaeology, 3D modelling, cultural heritage, digitisation


The Petralona Cave, which local inhabitants discovered by chance in 1959, is a remarkable natural and cultural landmark close to the village of Petralona, in the Chalkidiki peninsula of Greece. The site has gained global recognition for the discovery of a remarkably well-preserved Palaeolithic human skull, unearthed in 1960; it also holds archaeological and palaeontological significance. In this paper, the researchers introduce the Petralona Cave Virtual Museum: an innovative project whose mission is to increase public awareness and comprehension of the site. Our approach goes beyond mere replication of the physical museum located close to the cave; instead, the objective is to create an independent and comprehensive experience that is accessible to all visitors, irrespective of their ability to visit the site in person. Our methodology involved the documentation of the site and its history, analysis of user requirements, development of use cases to steer the design process, as well as architectural designs creation, itineraries and findings digitisation, and architectural structure finalisation. The Virtual Museum provides a well-organised frame structure that serves as an efficient gateway to the content, making navigation easy for visitors. Thanks to various presentation methods, including videos, high-quality images, interactive maps, animated content, interactive 3D models, plus searchable item libraries, among others, users are empowered to create a highly personalised navigation plan; thus the Virtual Museum experience is comparable to visiting the physical museum or cultural site. Cutting-edge digitisation techniques were employed to create highly detailed 3D models of the site. The Petralona Cave Virtual Museum is expected to offer an immersive experience, engaging diverse audiences; the interactive and educational exploration provides highly innovative access to archaeological knowledge. The visibility of the Petralona site is amplified and there is a significant contribution to knowledge dissemination about this important cultural heritage site.


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Author Biographies

Elli Karkazi, Ministry of Culture

Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology–Speleology

Athanassios Athanassiou, Ministry of Culture

Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology–Speleology

Andreas Darlas, Ministry of Culture

Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology–Speleology

Panagiotis Tokmakidis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Laboratory of Topography

Emmanouil K. Tzimtzimis, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas

Institute for Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology

Vicky Chatziparadeisi, Polyptychon Cultural Services

Polyptychon Cultural Services

Ioannis Aspiotis, Polyptychon Cultural Services

Polyptychon Cultural Services

George Triantafyllakos, Freelance Researcher

Freelance Researcher

Charisios Achillas, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas

Institute for Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology

Dimitrios Aidonis, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas

Institute for Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology

Dimitrios Tzetzis, International Hellenic University

Digital Manufacturing and Materials Characterization Laboratory

Dionysis Bochtis, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas

Institute for Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology


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How to Cite

Karkazi, E., Athanassiou, A., Darlas, A., Tokmakidis, P., Tzimtzimis, E. K., Chatziparadeisi, V., Aspiotis, I., Triantafyllakos, G., Achillas, C., Aidonis, D., Tzetzis, D., & Bochtis, D. (2023). Beyond the walls: the design and development of the Petralona Cave virtual museum utilising 3D technologies. Virtual Archaeology Review, 15(30), 80–96.




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