On July25 2010, six Binchester excavation students sat in a room in Durham University and logged into Second Life® (SL), the virtual world. In virtual form they attended a “Binchester Day” inside a virtual reconstruction of the very fort they were currently excavating.
The reconstruction is part of major initiative between the Binchester Project and ROMA, a community of Roman enthusiasts inside Second Life. ROMA is an ancient Roman themed land within the online world of SL where thousands of people from around the world log in to visit a virtual reconstruction of an ancient Roman city and its landscape. They do many things there, including socialize, shop, play games, attend events, and learn about the ancient world.
The Binchester students in virtual form met with ROMA Citizens for a question and answer session about the season that lasted over an hour. The Citizens asked questions about what it was like excavating on an archaeological project, and the students explained what had been found so far on the site. The talk was held in the reconstructed Principia (Headquarters) building in the fort. Afterward, students and Citizens attended a social event.
The virtual reconstruction of the fort gives the Binchester Project an online outreach program that will assist in publicizing the project and disseminating its findings and research to an international audience. The computer recreation of the fort and civilian settlement (vicus) gives visitors an idea of the look and character of the site from anywhere in the world. It is now possible to walk an avatar around a reconstructed Roman fort, and interactive displays, activities, and attractions bring the story of Binchester and the details of what the excavators are finding to visitors.
More mixed-media events are planned in this space for the coming months.
To learn how to access Second Life, look here: http://romacitizens.com/howtoaccessroma.html
To visit the Binchester reconstruction once inside Second Life, look here: http://slurl.com/secondlife/ROMA%20Vinovium////