Virtual Reality

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 155–182

Illuminating the past: state of the art


    • International Digital LaboratoryUniversity of Warwick
  • Mark Mudge
    • Cultural Heritage Imaging
  • Kurt Debattista
    • International Digital LaboratoryUniversity of Warwick
  • Alessandro Artusi
    • CASToRC Cyprus Institute
  • Alexandrino Gonçalves
    • Research Center for Informatics and CommunicationsPolytechnic Institute of Leiria
  • Alan Chalmers
    • International Digital LaboratoryUniversity of Warwick
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10055-010-0154-x

Cite this article as:
Happa, J., Mudge, M., Debattista, K. et al. Virtual Reality (2010) 14: 155. doi:10.1007/s10055-010-0154-x


Virtual reconstruction and representation of historical environments and objects have been of research interest for nearly two decades. Physically based and historically accurate illumination allows archaeologists and historians to authentically visualise a past environment to deduce new knowledge. This report reviews the current state of illuminating cultural heritage sites and objects using computer graphics for scientific, preservation and research purposes. We present the most noteworthy and up-to-date examples of reconstructions employing appropriate illumination models in object and image space, and in the visual perception domain. Finally, we also discuss the difficulties in rendering, documentation, validation and identify probable research challenges for the future. The report is aimed for researchers new to cultural heritage reconstruction who wish to learn about methods to illuminate the past.


Cultural heritageComputer graphicsImage-processingRenderingGlobal illuminationReflectance transformation imagingHigh dynamic range imagingSky modellingFlame modellingColour scienceVisual perception

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2010