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A Prehistoric Wetland
This project explores the interaction between 3-D visualisation and archaeological evidence. The visualisation is of a late Bronze Age to early Iron Age domestic platform structure. Situated in the east of England the site is set in the context of a wetland landscape typical of the prehistoric Fenland basin. The 3-D visualisation is representative of many prehistoric sites I have had the opportunity to be involved with whilst employed by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit at the University of Cambridge.
In the modern day landscape of the East Anglian Fenlands, ancient river courses are visible on the land surface and are known as 'roddons' these appear as upstanding ridges within the landscape. The sediments which fill the ancient river channels are denser than the surrounding peaty soils and therefore after a period of peat shrinkage and erosion these ancient river beds show up as distinct higher points in the landscape.
Consequently  ancient river channels can be mapped using airborne laser scanning 'LiDAR' and radar surveys to measure the changing level of the landscape.
Using radar data supplied by Crane Begg, of the Cambridge County Council Archaeology Service, I was able to engineer the landscape to digitally reinstate the ancient river channels within the 3-D environment. This became the basis of the 3-D terrain model which was subject to a digital ecosystem, populating the landscape with unique trees, shrubs and wetland plants, resulting in a digital recreation of the paleo-environment.
A 3-D model of an 'organically' evolved structure, representing an archaeological site constructed over time using natural materials, is often difficult to model and combine convincingly with a digital environment. In reality such structures would be constructed from the background landscape materials, like timbers made from the trees in that landscape.
This project utilises digital plant growing technology to create the raw materials from which the archaeological structures are digitally constructed. For example rather than modelling a fence post from scratch inside the 3D modelling program, a suitable piece of branch is generated using the same plant growing software that was utilised to populate the digital environment. 
This digital timber is then reshaped within the 3D modelling program, becoming a structural element in the final 3-D reconstruction, in this case part of the crannog structure.
Working in this way I was able to create the crannog structure using individual and unique timbers, the overall result is a complex 3-D model which sits comfortably within the digital landscape.
The next stage of the project was to set up camera locations to create different view points within the landscape. These different cameras are used to generate a series of equirectangular images which are incorporated into a VR presentation. The equirectangular image is a flat projection of the full 360 degree field of view at the camera location, this image and others like it is used to create the interactive VR presentation.
The results of the project have now been incorporated into a digital interface which will allow users to explore the prehistoric landscape by navigating through the model and selecting various features to display information panels. An example of this VR experience is available on this website here, this allows you to view the crannog in the setting of a prehistoric Fenland landscape.Fev_Instr.htmlshapeimage_16_link_0