Four years after its start, IUP’s Archaeology Island has moved from Linden Lab’s Second Life to ScienceSim, an alternative virtual environment that can be used as a tool for visualization, training, and scientific discovery. Marion Smeltzer, graduate student in the M.A. in Applied Archaeology program, has created the new island and redesigned the archaeological content.
Maya Pyramid Reconstruction on Archaeology Island
Archaeology Island, originally funded by a Provost Innovation Grant, consists of virtualizations of archaeological sites investigated by faculty members in the IUP Anthropology, History, and Sociology departments. Sites featured on the island include the recreation of a Monongahela Village investigated in Western Pennsylvania by Sarah Neusius and Beverly Chiarulli (Anthropology), a Roman site in Cyprus investigated by R. Scott Moore (History), an underwater shipwreck investigated by Ben Ford (Anthropology), a Maya site in Belize investigated by Beverly Chiarulli (Anthropology), and a recent recreation of the Laurel Hill /Brown farm, part of an initiative by James Dougherty (Sociology and director of the Center for Northern Appalachian Studies). The farm, established in 1790 and occupied until the 1960s, was the site of an antebellum community of former slaves. Because of its inaccessibility, the area has been virtually reconstructed to show the landscape, buildings, and stones marking the graves of Civil War colored troops.
Maya House on Archaeology Island
ScienceSim was launched in January 2009 by ACM and the IEEE Computer Society to support the SuperComputing 2009 conference. It continues to be an environment where scientists, educators, and students come together to explore new usages of virtual environments. Although it is still in Beta testing, it provides an environment for experimentation and design of in virtual worlds. The grid, mostly used by the academic world, helps develop learning materials using the platform. It also has a forum for discussion of the use of virtual environments for the classroom.
The developers have recently extended a public invitation so others can come to ScienceSim and investigate its use for building collaborative visualization tools. As an added bonus and incentive to help “newbies,” the site provides some startup templates for buildings and other tools that are automatically placed in your inventory.
We hope to see you there!