Maurizio Forte

William and Sue Gross Professor of Classical Studies Art, Art History, & Visual Studies
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My scientific activity has been particularly focused from the beginning on a strong multidisciplinary approach to the development of virtual heritage and digital archaeology. During my degree, MA, PhD and Specialization in Archaeology I have always integrated traditional courses in Ancient Art History, Etruscology, Roman and Greek Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology, Papirology, Egyptology, Pre-Colombian Archaeology, and Ancient Topography with more experimental activities in computing labs and with the use of digital technologies. I have started to use computer applications in archaeology in the early 80s during my degree in Ancient History. At that time, I was particularly attracted by the idea that digital computing could changed the methodology of research in archaeology and, in general, in the humanities. For this reason, I spent ten years working in a Supercomputing Center in Italy (CINECA, Bologna, http://www.cineca.it/en) co-fouding with other colleagues the Visual Lab, one of the first labs in Europe dedicated to visual applications and image processing in archaeology and cultural heritage. It was a very pionering experience focused on the use of techniques of computer vision for the reconstruction of artifacts, monuments and sites. All this work was aimed at integrating technology with field work data from cultural heritage sites. I define “virtual heritage” as the digital information that is derived from a physical site, whether it is an object, monument, territory, or landscape. This information must be processed both by computer programs but also, and more importantly, by our perceptions, interpretations, knowledge, cultural awareness and finally communicated through dissemination. The research in which I have been most involved is concerned with the reconstruction of archaeological and ancient landscapes in a virtual format. This has meant working with digital technologies such as 3D documentation, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, spatial technologies, open software WEB-VRGIS and virtual reality. Having created a virtual reconstruction, my efforts were then directed to the epistemology of this form of presentation, one aspect of eco-anthropological thinking. I have coordinated archaeological projects in Italy, Ethiopia, Egypt, Oman, India, China, Honduras, Mexico, Spain and Turkey, always integrating theoretical approaches and new methodologies of research.