Modeling the Tincu House: A New 3D Model from Roman Gabii

Over on the Forbes blog this week, I explore the new publication of an interactive 3D model for a mid-Republican house from the site of Gabii. The University of Michigan Press and the Gabii Project were kind enough to let me read the new e-publication, which links together maps, 3D models, an archaeological object database, and text in order to create a multimedia publication. Admittedly, the publication is not fully open-access. It costs $150.00 to buy, a price-tag that will largely be paid by libraries and research institutions. However, the database is online and easily searchable, and you can read the introduction to the publication as well.

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Map of Gabii, a city-state about 11 miles to the east of Rome. It was active in the first millenium BCE until the 3rd century CE (Image via the Pelagios Project’s Peripleo map).

The most significant aspect of this e-publication (beyond continuing to make the case for digital publications generally) is that it begins to engrain a set of best practices for all archaeological publications in the future. I excavated for many years as an undergraduate, and excavation reports can often take a decade or more to be released. Even then, they are limited in circulation because these publications are usually gigantic  over-sized folios that are both expensive and unwieldy. However, the Gabii Project shows how digital tools can and should be integrated both on the ground and when it is time to publish. Excavators use on-site tablets to allow modeling and GIS mapping in real time, and then transfer data quickly to a central cloud. As such, final excavation reports can be produced, published, and disseminated much more quickly than ever before. In the process, they have also saved me a lot of bookshelf space.

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Screenshot of the new 3D interactive publication of the Tincu House, a house dating originally to the early third century BCE (Image used with permission from the Gabii Project and the University of Michigan Press under a CC-BY 4.0 International License).

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