The Archaeology of Ancient Britain

Spring 2013

VMS 290S

Rebecca Bennett


This course will take you on a journey through the development of human society and culture in the British Isles before written records began. From the first migratory hunters to the Roman conquest, we will examine the key themes of settlement and society of ancient communities through an exploration of the tools and techniques available to archaeologists. Students will have the opportunity to hone their detective skills, piecing together various forms of evidence into cogent stories of the past using various Wired! technologies including GIS, GoogleEarth and Sketch-up. Students will demonstrate their understanding by drawing on digital archives and materials to re-interpret an archaeological investigation of their choice in an innovative and engaging way.

Digital Cities: Representing the Past and Inventing the Future

Spring 2013

VMS 380S

Florian Wiencek, Timothy Senior, Victoria Szabo


This course on ‘Digital Cities’ is being developed as collaboration between Jacobs University (Bremen, Germany) and Duke University with the aim of exploring the use of new tools, techniques and methods from digital and spatial research in the visualization of historical material culture and the built environment. It combines theoretical and practical approaches to digital places and spaces or localized digital media, as location has become a dominant coordinate system to digital information in the last years.

Our focus at Duke University is digital storytelling of site specific and architectural history and the re-mediation of spatial experience using a variety of tools, such as 3D-modelling, audio, video, augmented reality or web-authoring. The theory and practice will be grounded by readings of theories of digital media, digital storytelling and digital cultural heritage and digital spaces. Moreover we will learn practical media production skills in lab-sessions in class – complemented by WIRED! Workshops taught by Sarah Goetz on Friday afternoons – in order to produce rich-layered historical accounts of different sites in Durham, NC. The projects, which will be carried out in groups and will contribute to a larger common project, will be “deep dives” into the histories, possible histories and possible futures of architectural sites in Durham, NC on the basis of available archival material as well as individual research by the students on the site(s). Ideally these projects will have the form of interactive / participative / performative (on-site) interventions using different forms of digital media, which will (re)mediate the in situ experiences of the sites’ histories, presents and futures. This practical project is combined with a written documentation, which will explain your project ideas, the role of individual group members in the project as well as the theoretical grounding and rationale of the projects and the reason you chose the media at hand for realizing your project.

The course will be conducted through a mixture of regular joint classes of Duke University and Jacobs University over videoconferencing to both teach and experiment with core technologies and to explore core topics of the course together, as well as independently-run classes in a lecture/seminar format, which will focus on relevant theory and group-project development.

Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany Collaboration
Duke has established a close relationship with members of the Jacobs University community in Bremen, Germany. In 2012-13 several Jacobs graduate students came to campus as exchange students. We taught our Digital Cities course, which was coupled virtually with a course at Jacobs. Both courses met at the same time and videoconferences discussion and workshop sessions with one another, as well as sharing project crits.

Related Essay:
This project was presented at the Digital Heritage International Congress 2013 and subsequently published:
“Digital Cities: A collaborative engagement with urban heritage”
Timothy Senior, Victoria Szabo, Florian Wiencek

Mapping and Modeling Early Modern Venice

Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

VMS 89S

Kristin Lanzoni

Katie McCusker, TA

Spring 2016: T 10:20am-12:50pm | Wired! Lab (Smith, Bay 11 2nd Floor, A233)

Beginning with Napoleon’s forced entry into the city in 1797 and the fall of a more than 1000 year old Republic, the urban landscape of Venice experienced notable change. Significant intervention included the destruction of many Renaissance monuments and, therefore, great loss to the architectural and artistic patrimony of the city. The goal of this Wired! course is to map the urban landscape of early modern Venice by re-constructing lost architectural gems of the fifteenth and sixteenth century along with their immediate surroundings. To accomplish this, students will work in groups to use digital tools, such as Google Sketch up, to translate historical and modern maps, prints, engravings and paintings into 3-D models. In addition to the exterior reconstruction of the buildings, students will use inventories and various imagery to recreate interior spaces. These monuments will be mapped onto present-day Venice. The course assumes no prior art historical or digital experience; students will be provided with the background necessary to understand the art and architectural history of early modern Venice, and the skills required for the digital technology. The outcome of the course will be an unprecedented reconfiguration of aspects of Venice as it appeared in the Renaissance and visual models that may be shared with a larger academic community. This course is a First Year Seminar and is open to first years only.