Israel's Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective

Part of the series Quantitative Methods in the Humanities and Social Sciences pp 161-172

The WAVE and 3D: How the Waters Might Have Parted—Visualizing Evidence for a Major Volcanic Eruption in the Mediterranean and Its Impact on Exodus Models

  • Jürgen P. SchulzeAffiliated withQualcomm Institute, UC San Diego Email author 
  • , Jessica BlockAffiliated withQualcomm Institute, University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
  • , Philip WeberAffiliated withQualcomm Institute, UC San Diego
  • , Thomas E. LevyAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, and Levantine & Cyber-Archaeology Laboratory; Qualcomm Institute/California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
  • , Gregory L. DaweAffiliated withQualcomm Institute, UC San Diego
  • , Brad C. SparksAffiliated withArchaeological Research Group, Los Angeles-San Diego
  • , Thomas A. DeFantiAffiliated withQualcomm Institute, University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

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To fully engage in Late Bronze Age “world building” and the Exodus narrative for the EX3 exhibition (see Chap. 11), transdisciplinary research in archaeology, geology, and computer graphics were integrated in a new 3D immersive Wide Angle Virtual Environment (WAVE). The goal was to marshal geological evidence for a hypothesis that might explain the “Parting of the Sea” narrative in the Book of Exodus. The research explores the possibility of a connection to the Santorini island (Thera) volcanic eruption of the Late Bronze Age inducing a tsunami that would first draw the water away from the shore before surging back into a large wave. We collected data from various sources and geo-located it on a 3D map of the Mediterranean region. Combined with an automated presentation sequence and narration, the resulting virtual reality application presents the data in a novel way, which allows for a more intuitive approach for its interpretation. This chapter introduces the new WAVE and describes how we created a real-time virtual reality demonstration to present archaeological and geological data that may inform elements of the Exodus story. We explain how the data was acquired, how it was fused onto a 3D terrain map, and how an automated demonstration was created with narration for the Exodus exhibition. The chapter examines the scientific features of the visualized data, as well as the implementation of the visualization software.