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Virtual Archaeology Hardcover – December 31, 1997

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cyberculture meets ancient culture in Forte and Siliotti's "atlas of archaeological models." Using computer reconstructions of many of the world's most fascinating archaeological sites, the editors show us just how much cybertechnology adds to our understanding of lost worlds. They document how, as sites are unearthed, measured, and documented, the discoveries find their way into cybernetic models that both sharpen scholars' understanding of the discoveries and allow scholars to further explore these worlds. The process of constructing digital models forces archaeologists to systematically ask questions about what the lighting would have been like in a particular room or what a building's original texture and color would have been. The resulting models may go so far as to allow scholars to walk the virtual roadways and hallways of ancient cities, seeing them very similarly to how they would have appeared to their inhabitants. As new data arises, archaeologists can alter the models accordingly.

Forte and Siliotti's gorgeous oversize volume displays these cybermodels alongside the stories of the discoveries themselves. The book shows many lifelike and stunning representations of long-lost places. However, not only do the cybermodels offer insight into the distant past, they also provide invaluable models of the immediate past--the excavations themselves. The editors discuss how archaeology paradoxically involves a degree of destruction to enable reconstruction. Forte and Siliotti explain that each excavation requires a level of history to be moved out of the way to reveal the level beneath. And while archaeologists replace what they move, virtual archaeology allows for three-dimensional models to maintain details of the entire site in easily accessible cyberspace. Beautiful to look at and awe-inspiring to read, Virtual Archaeology is an ideal book for all those who love both the past and the future.

From School Library Journal

YA?This beautiful book is a dual treasure. It contains an information-laden yet highly accessible text and a variety of well-chosen and fascinating illustrations. The 50 chapters are divided into 5 sections, presenting material on sites in Africa, the Near East, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Each chapter covers such topics as the history of the particular site, aspects of the civilization it represents, and some archaeological details of the structures and realia. All reflect the "new directions being opened up by the conjunction of archaeological research and technology." The illustrations include enlightening computer reconstructions such as those of the passageways of Egypt's tomb of Horemheb, a Mongol encampment, the Oetztaler Ice Man's skull, the Lascaux caves and paintings, and the probable original appearance of Beijing's Forbidden City. The sites included provide a wonderful sampling of the world's ancient cultures and civilizations from the well known to the lesser known.?Lorna Kundert, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N Abrams B.V. (December 31, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810939436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810939431
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,814,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are only a handful 'virtual renderings' of the ancient world in this book. And, although written just a few years ago, most of these renderings look plain when compared with any contemporary simple computerized design drawing or even computer games, though the latter don't have to take into account real world physical constraints. Technical information on the virtual images is lacking for the most part.
I see the author foresaw interesting possibilities for computer reconstruction of past cultures, including virtual traveling 'inside' buildings and surveying vast areas from multiple points of view. This could be very interesting not only to the archaeologist but also to many people in other fields, from sociology to architecture, history, decoration and just travelling. But the still images don't convey a convincing picture of the final result.
I had unmet expectations about this book. It's more of a general account of some recent explorations grouped partly on a time basis and partly by region. I felt also an unbalanced mix in the final product, concerning virtual (little of this) and non virtual imagery, and also on the sites selected.
Summarizing: the book appears as a progress report on current archaeology investigations, with some reference to new techniques. The book title is misleading.
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By A Customer on August 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Far from being a definitive collection of illustrations of the ancient world as it was, this is a vastly overpriced volume filled with mediocre reconstruction's {some computer created, some not} supported by adequate text. You will find the average National Geographic archaeological article featuring far richer reconstruction's of the past than this work. Only for the most dedicated builder of an archaeological library.
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Format: Hardcover
A better title for this book would be, perhaps, "Archaeological Graphical Images". The images of ancient sites are very pleasing and the text informative in describing the sites. Each site was well chosen and the recreations believable. However, there is virtually no mention of how computers were used to do create these. I kept asking, "how were these images done?," "can I do this on my own computer?", and "what hardware and software was used?" There is nothing really to distinguish this book from one that uses manually created images, except the authors' statement that they were done using a computer. What the Authors' seem to have done is create virtual ancient worlds that can be walked though and experienced. I want to be able do to this too. However, the book is a brochure of what they have done, not a description.
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Format: Hardcover
Though I read a lot of popular archaeology, I somehow missed seeing this one when it first came out. Thirteen years ago, I imagine it would have been fascinating. Now, computer graphics has advanced so far and so fast, many of the images in this book remind me of nothing so much as the background graphics in DOOM. It was originally published in Italian, but there's plenty of coverage of Egypt, Anatolia, East Asia, and the New World. The text is quite good but the photos of actual models and museum reconstructions are more useful than the "computer reconstruction" (which, of course, are the work of programmers, not the computers themselves). And there aren't nearly as many of those as the title would suggest. I'd like to see a thorough reworking of this project using current technology -- and without the word "virtual" in the title.
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