Bernadette Flynn

(Griffith University, Griffith Film School, Australia)

One of the tasks of virtual heritage has been to create mathematically accurate simulations of the past. Traditional archaeological spatial knowledge systems such as the map, survey and grid have been used to design mathematical data sets for 3D models. These digital documents have often been associated with the real and in turn this realness has been associated with knowledge transmission to users. However condensing the real to a grided schematisation of digital space may be a poor record of a previously lived encounter between human and monument. Others have variously considered the possibility of user immersion, storytelling or gameplay. Here I will turn to recent work in phenomenological archaeology that has asked how the spatiotemporal characteristics of a site might be understood in relation to lived moving bodies.
In reference to a Megalithic temple structure in Malta I briefly outline how the temples might be encountered through experiential being. An exploration of basic body movement foregrounds an embodied relationship to monumental architecture and provides an entry into an understanding of how the temple architecture could have been utilized. In this way the monument is understood as something lived through, mediated upon, worked on and altered, replete with meaning and not just something to be looked at.
The aim is to rearticulate the Megalithic site in a digital visualization environment in a way that moves beyond the grid model of virtual space. The intention is to create an environment where the mobile interaction of the body and temple is reproduced in the digital interaction between user and architecture. The paper explores what might be the benefits and limitations of this model. It outlines how bodily systems of knowledge production might increase our understanding of the past and questions to what extent traditional archaeological knowledge can be integrated into this approach.

Keywords: Phenomenology, spatial knowledge, Malta.