Students ‘Visit’ Lost Archaeological Site in Virtual Reality

Students ‘Visit’ Lost Archaeological Site in Virtual Reality


ISIS has started bulldozing the ancient city of Nimrud… Militants used
military vehicles to destroy at least part
of the archaeological site… terror groups destruction
of an ancient city in Iraq… this crater is all that remains
of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.>>AGNETE LASSON: It’s just
unbelievable,the destruction and how they’re targeting
pre-Islamic cultural heritage. It is part of our human past
and that… that element, that part of our past
is irretrievably lost. We can do the best that we can
to teach our own students about this past.
But these students would never be able to visit that palace. That was another reason
for choosing this particular model,
to introduce the students. …slide thorough like that … The V.R. is the next best thing.The course is an introduction to Ancient Near Eastern culture. When we get to the Assyrian
kings, now we can talk about one of their great cultural
expressions which are these monumental palaces. They entered
a throne room in a palace and the palace was called
the Northwest Palace. And it was built by an Assyrian
ruler called Ashurnasirpal.>>KATHRYN SLANSKI: So these
were meant to be a projection of the might of the Empire
and the might of the King. They’re like mountains.
They’re so big and you can’t comprehend that human beings
created this. So with the way that we’re taught with images and little objects
you never understanding what’s the scale of these things.
What does it feel like to be in the palace.
What’s the grandeur of such a palace. Then you are
thinking wouldn’t it be ideal if there was a way that we
could immerse them in that particular environment.
We decided maybe we can start using VR as a
possible technology to help with that. Whoa … oh my god…
Whoa, wait what…? I’ve never done this.>>John Harford:
So Virtual Reality is not really established as a viable
instructional tool yet. You know we’re
in unknown territory. Weird…ahh… it’s so crazy.>>SANJANA SINGH:
It is not about the technology. It is all about how we use
the technology to impact education and just help to make
a better experience. (VR: in headphones)…
also creatures which guard and protect major doorways are
often depicted in Assyrian art as having bulls or
lions bodies….>>KATHRYN SLANSKI: It was a lot
more effective as a teaching tool than I had expected.
There’s a reconstruction of one of these
rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And I take
students there as well. But it’s nothing
like the dizzying sensation of stepping into the throne room
in this virtual reality. It was really
amazing to… to go into VR and get that sense of space. You have these
goosebumps going and you have the chills because the lighting,
the sounds and everything is absolutely like you are in
that palace environment. The ceiling is so high
you have to turn your head to look up at it.
It’s a physical sensation of stepping into a really large
space that is so large it’s disorienting. The high ceilings….
like, I don’t understand how you paint
that high if you’re living in like…
I don’t even know… 4000 BC? There’s no substitute
for the real thing. But what the VR does
in combination with the real art is set it into its architectural
context in a way that is very difficult for anyone to do
with slides. There are some
constants and some almost incomprehensible differences but
understanding the human past and objects that were created in
the past, I think it tells us something about
the human condition or what it is to be a human.

Author: Kevin Mason

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