Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 647–650 | Cite as

From illusions to reality: transformation of the term ‛virtual archaeology’

  • Daria Yu HookkEmail author
Original Paper


The appearance of computers as super-brain inspires the hope that archaeology will solve the problem of the multidimensional data presentation. Since 1970s, the international conferences on the computer application in archaeology have discussed the advantages of new technologies. During one of them in 1990, the term virtual archaeology was introduced for the first time by Paul Reilly. He discussed both possibilities: visualizing in the computer screen the total amount of data obtained from the fieldwork and using the technologies applied in the computer games production for scientific aims. The word visualization also became the keyword of the definition given 20 years later in the International Charter on Virtual Аrchaeology. However, in 2007, this interpretation was exposed to critic. Virtual archaeology aims at the application of computer technologies for the creation of high-quality images of archaeological objects as well as in assistance to the archaeological studies. Time has gone; many applied sciences introduced computer technologies, and the possibility to unify and accumulate, to analyse and to demonstrate data appeared. Today, any big scientific research of the archaeological monument supposes the application of natural sciences and computer technologies. The archaeological excavations and virtual archaeology are parts of one infinite process, and the virtual archaeology means all the newest kinds of computer technologies used for archaeological investigations, data processing, modeling, archaeological and historical reconstruction and evident representation of their results. Since the time of Paul Reilly’s definition, the meaning of the term virtual transformed from imaginary to existing in our understanding. It looks curious, but maybe very soon, instead of virtual archaeology, it will be possible to say up-today archaeology.


Virtual archaeology Definition Terminology 



I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my colleagues who kindly discussed details of the article. The fruitful discussion on the topic was also provided by the grant support of the Russian Foundation for Humanities (project nos. 12-03-14006 and 13-21-01003).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The State Hermitage MuseumSaint-PetersburgRussian Federation

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