Interactive virtual presentation of the archaeological excavations in the souks of Beirut

The presentation is conceived as an interactive supplement to the exhibited objects providing additional information in models, photographs, maps and text. It will be displayed with any readily available recent version of world-wide web browsers, augmented with VRML and possibly QuickTime plug-ins. The documents will be coded in html with text content provided by the Department of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut (AUB). The presentation will be formed so as to be run self-contained from a CD-ROM with the same software browsers and plug-ins used for the World-Wide Web.

Composite mosaic floor insitu.
(The "Portico")

Mosaic inscription from
"The House of Jealousy".

Aerial photograph of the city center before demolition.

VRML site model (oversimplified for illustratory purposes).*

Samples VRML models of pottery and glass found in the Beirut excavations based on section drawings.*


The site of the excavation will be presented as maps, aerial photographs and an interactive 3D VRML model. These will all contain "hotspots" linking to detailed maps, site drawings, photographs and objects. The model will be navigable with a series of preset "views" in addition to interactive "walkthru" navigation on part of the user. Items such as residual buildings, individual objects and mosaics will be clickable linking to further information and illustrations.


Maps of the general area, overview and detailed maps of the site and various excavation locations will be used as reference areas to give an idea of the whole of the souks.


As supplemental information to the exhibited mosaic panel composite images of the insitu finds as a whole will be linked to both model and overview images. These will in turn be clickable to reveal detail photographs from the various mosaic sites, accompanied by explanatory texts.


Individual object finds will be linked in to their original sites in the overview images and to and object index. While all will be illustrated with detail pictures, some selected objects will be rendered as VRML models that can be explored either through a series of animated, preset scenes or by the user. Some objects may also be presented as interactive QTVR "movies" which can be handled by the user, showing the object from all sides.


It is proposed to include a separate, but interconnected collection of photographs of the souks area taken before the buildings covering the archaeological site were demolished. The images will be annotated and linked to a special map indicating the image direction with the map of the excavations superimposed.


The presentation will be produced in English. If the available material merits, some audio and video might also be linked to special items pending further planning. The presentation will be coded in hypertext mark-up language (html) for display with readily available recent versions of WWW browsers and plug-ins for VRML and QuckTime VR. We are concerned that the presentation not be dependent on proprietary software and special hardware, but that it can be run directly from a local disk, a CD ROM, local intranet server or even over the Internet, depending on the target audience.


The presentation will have a modest, unassuming graphic character, adorned only with simple headers and footers for identification and recursive navigation with central emphasis on informational content. The user interface and functionality will provide access to overview pages and indexes from all pages ensuring that the user not "get lost" while navigating the presentation.


Standard rules for bibliographic creditation for the material content, presentation authoring and exhibition context will be given according to the Berne Copyright Convention. The presentation will be developed by the Digital Documentation Center at AUB in cooperation with the AUB Department of History and Archaeology. Sponsors will be credited in a similar, unobtrusive manner.

Professor Børre Ludvigsen
The Digital Documentation Center, AUB
May 13, 1998
The images of the VRML models above are clickable and when viewed with a browser such as Netscape 4.0 equipped with a VRML plugin, they can be interactively viewed as virtual models. A VRML plugin for Netscape can be downloaded free from

Created by the Digital Documentation Center at AUB in collaboration with Al Mashriq of Høgskolen i Østfold, Norway.

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