(Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Wrocław, Poland)

Keywords: image, visualization, archaeology

The will to protect cultural heritage has become an impulse to construct three-dimensional visualizations, which can be regarded as a form of discovering, studying and experiencing the past. Thanks to a computer program and properly manipulated 3D models, scientists can test out their research hypotheses, basing on mutual relations between the models. 3D modeling is a priceless tool when it comes to reconstructing archaeological structures and artefacts as well as analysing and interpreting the past. It allows to create spatial objects that can be processed in various ways.
3D visualization is a new narration form in archaeology and complements descriptions. In our society, in whose cognitive process an image begins to play a dominant role, popularization of the past with the use of digital reconstruction is particularly important. It is the visuality that determines the way we experience and analyse historical knowledge. An image in the form of a reconstruction is complete, comprehensively narrated, which means there is no room for a deeper interpretation. It is the scholar who defines the vision of a reconstructed structure. That is why an author must keep a critical distance towards their analysis when creating a visual message that provides information on cultural heritage. In order to cover the requirement of reliability when constructing a model, it is advised to follow the standards included in the London Charter.
The significance of 3D visualization as a method of presenting research hypotheses will be discussed basing on the examples of digital reconstructions of two settlements from the Early Iron Age, discovered in Lower Silesia in South-West Poland. Archaeological excavations at those sites were conducted in 2000 by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Wrocław.

Relevance for the conference: Constructing three-dimensional images of the past by archaeologists significantly contributes to cultural heritage protection and aims to provide the society with knowledge about the past.
Relevance for the session: Visualization tools are used in archaeology, so a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of three-dimensional reconstructions in cultural heritage protection should be started.
Innovation: Testing research hypotheses with the use of 3D models supports the interpretation of the results of archaeological research.

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