Virtual Museums

Underwater cultural heritage sites, such as shipwrecks and ancient sunken cities, are fascinating subjects to study for underwater archaeologists. However, these sites are not easily accessible to the public and are threatened by many human activities, such as trawling and dredging, as well as by the development of coastal areas, river banks, and lake shores. Today, the latest technologies provide us with an extraordinary opportunity to explore these remarkable sites without even getting wet, and they enable us to preserve a digital copy of this threatened heritage for future generations.

You will find here a compilation of a few specialized websites offering access to 3D reproductions and virtual visits of submerged sites and wrecks. Thanks to these virtual dives into the world of underwater archaeology, you can now discover underwater cultural heritage from the comfort of your own home.

 

Bermudas 100 project, Bermudas

The Bermuda 100 Challenge aims to document 100 or more historic shipwrecks and distinct natural habitats in the waters surrounding Bermuda in order to enhance conservation efforts to preserve this valuable cultural and natural heritage and open the sites to both real and ‘virtual’ tourism for specialists and amateurs alike.

Kyrenia Shipwreck, Cyprus

Le site archéologique de Kyrenia est une épave très connue d’un navire de commerce grec datant du 6ème siècle avant notre Ere. Lancé en 2004, le projet Kyrenia a eu pour objectifs de créer des reconstitutions 3D précises et scientifiquement exactes des restes de la charpente du navire et de ses artefacts afin de construire un modèle plausible et virtuel du navire et de sa cargaison. Ce modèle a également permis aux archéologues de tester diverses théories quant à la taille, à l’organisation et l’agencement du chargement de ce navire à l’époque de son naufrage.  

 

Pavlopetri Project, Greece

The Pavlopetri Project started in 2009 and finalized in 2014. The project permitted the study of the history and development of the submerged ancient Bronze Age city of Pavlopetri in southern Laconia, Greece. Data from the excavation was used in collaboration with the BBC to create reconstructions of the site which was broadcast in a BBC/Discovery Channel documentary.

Tantura Shipwreck, Israel

The main objective here is to allow the simulation of a dive to discover the wreck of the Tantura B Lagoon in Israel, while at the same time giving access to the database of documents from the archaeological excavation with a simple click on the remains of the ship. 

Virtual Open-Air Museum of Wrecks in the Gulf of Gdańsk, Poland

This website with 3D models of wrecks from the Gulf of Gdańsk, accompanied with their descriptions, constitutes one of the achievements of the project, opened in 2015. The models represent careful copies of an actual appearance of the wrecks lying on the bottom of the Gulf of Gdańsk.

3D Reconstruction of the HMS Anne, United Kingdom

This site offers a video with the 3D reconstruction of the construction process of the English ship HMS Anne, which ran ashore in 1690 on a beach during a battle against the French fleet. For a realistic and direct experience, viewers can use 3D glasses to watch the video. 

Scapa Flow Historic Wreck Site, United Kingdom

Orkney, a Scottish archipelago, has a unique underwater environment. From vast battleships resting in the heart of Scapa Flow, to smaller blockships dotted along the rugged coastline. For non-divers, this website offers the opportunity to experience the wrecks from afar, without having to put on a dry suit.

 

German Destroyer V82 3D, United Kingdom

Of the two destroyer wrecks in Portsmouth Harbour identified by the Maritime Archaeology Trust in 2016, the eastern wreck of V82 is the more visible. The site was recorded on April 6th 2016 as part of the HLF Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War project by the Maritime Archaeology Trust.

 

Thunder Bay 3D shipwrecks tour, United States

Explore the shipwrecks beneath the waters of Lake Huron and take a virtual dive using interactive 3D wreck tours. The shipwrecks of Thunder Bay constitute a microcosm of Great Lakes commercial shipping industry spanning the last two hundred years. The collection reflects transitions in ship architecture and construction, from wooden schooners to early steel-hulled steamers, and several unusual vessel types.

The Thistlegorm Project

The Thistlegorm Project aims to raise awareness of the rich underwater cultural heritage of the Red Sea. The project is a collaboration between the University of Nottingham, Ain Shams (Cairo) and Alexandria University, who are using 3D and virtual reality technologies to provide greater access to various submerged sites within the region. The SS Thistlegorm was chosen to represent the project due to its wide recognition within the diving community. By providing access to a site previously only accessible to divers; public awareness of underwater heritage in Egypt may be increased regionally and internationally; and further conservation and preservation of said heritage may be achieved.

 http://divemagazine.co.uk/travel/7836-the-thistlegorm-project 

 

 Virtual Dive on the Wreck of the Melckmeyt (1659), Iceland

The wreck at the centre of the project is a merchant ship named Melckmeyt (Milkmaid). It was discovered in 1992 by local divers Erlendur Guðmundsson and Sævar Árnason, close to a small isolated island called Flatey in Breiðafjörður, off the west coast of Iceland. Investigations at the site restarted in 2016, when a team of divers from the University of Iceland decided to carry out a more detailed survey. It is believed to have been built in the Netherlands and represents one of the world’s most northerly historical Dutch shipwrecks. The team was able to apply the latest technological innovations to make a high-resolution 3D survey of the shipwreck and this data has been used as the basis of the virtual reality experience. 

News on the Virtual Tour

 

The Gnalic Shipwreck Site, Croatia

The Gnalić shipwreck is a little over three nautical miles distant from Biograd na moru, Croatia, on the Dalmatian coast. Previous archaeological investigations exposed the remains of a large ship dating to the late 16th century. Artifacts excavated at the time include a rich assortment of items and materials including: glass vessels and mirrors, brass chandeliers, shaving razors, and candle snuffers. One of the most interesting and rare finds was a collection of spectacles packed in little wooden boxes. Determining the provenience and destination of all these items will shed light on the nature of commerce routes in the central Mediterranean world of the late 16th century. This audio-visual work was composed by Kotaro Yamafune, a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University, as a part of primary results of Gnalic Project 2014 field season.

https://nauticalarch.org/projects/gnalic-shipwreck-excavation/

Forgotten Wrecks of WWI

The HMD John Mitchell was an 85 foot (25 m) long steam drifter that sunk on the 14th November 1917 after colliding with SS Bjerka. Fortunately, there was no loss of life when the wreck disappeared into the sea, approximately 15 miles from Swanage. The wreck of the John Mitchell was rediscovered by Dave Wendes, a local dive boat skipper and historian, after he was alerted by a local fisherman who caught his nets on the wreck. Today she lies at a depth of 40 m - inaccessible to most.  With the generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Maritime Archaeology Trust has been able to research the wreck through the project, the Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War. Volunteer divers have collected information, video and images from the site, and artefacts recovered from the wreck have also been recorded. This information is freely available in an online database. For further information on the HMD John Mitchell, please visit the project website.  

(The opposite picture is an illustration of a World War I shipwreck that is not John Mitchell HMD.)

 

Vrouw Maria, Finland

The Vrouw Maria (Lady Mary) was a 18th Century Dutch vessel that sank in Finnish waters on its way to Saint Petersburg, bearing a precious cargo destined for the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia. It represents a valuable piece of European underwater cultural heritage, that anyone can “visit” and with no need to be a scuba diver, thanks to digital technologies. Researchers and students at the Department of Media (Media Lab Helsinki) in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, have created an interactive, real-time, virtual reality simulation about the Vrouw Maria shipwreck.

 

Virtual Tour of the RMS Titanic

Titanic sank in 1912, when she collided with an iceberg during her maiden voyage. In 1985, the wreck was located by a joint French–American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The wreck has been the focus of intense interest and has been visited by numerous expeditions, and controversial salvage operations have recovered thousands of items. Titanic VR is an immersive educational interactive story and game, and in this video you can see a digital reproduction of the wreck of RMS Titanic. 


Visit the creators at www.immersivevreducation.com

 

Virtual Dive Trails of Protected Wreck Sites, England

This site offers you to take a virtual tour to discover numerous wrecks of ships from different parts of the world, that have at some points in time sunk in English waters. These trails use new technologies such as multi-image photogrammetric recording and virtual reality techniques. The new techniques allow viewers to see a clear 3D image of a site. They can even aid archaeologists' work on land by allowing measurements to be taken and analysis to be carried out post-dive.

 

Virtual Visit of the Underwater Archaeology Museum Fuerte de San José El Alto

In 2007, the Underwater Archaeology Museum Fuerte de San José El Alto opened in Campeche, Mexico. This Museum contains spectacular finds from Mexican cenotes and from historical shipwrecks as well as a collection that retraces all the Mexican history through the archaeological sites found under water. The Museum uses new technologies to reconstruct sites and is illustrated with different media platforms on the history of the discoveries. The Museum established the possibility to virtual visited the rooms with 3D models.

More about the Museum 

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