(Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA)


I. Works that are leading to the creation of a research and learning environment that brings together archaeologists, computer scientists and digital media designers to address matters of cultural heritage.


A. Work to develop computer assisted vessel reconstruction technology of thin-shell ceramics for historical archaeological research and interpretation.

B. “The President’s House” using archaeological evidence and 3D digital models to reinterpret the birth of a nation.

C. Use of smartphone technology to disseminate cultural heritage information to Independence National Park visitors.


The paper presents an overview of an innovative project pertaining to cultural heritage, specifically daily life in colonial Philadelphia.  The project uses digital technologies in the analysis, interpretation and public dissemination of historical information and archaeological evidence.  The project focuses on two recent archaeological excavations in Independence National Historical Park.

Recent archaeological excavation yielded the richest Colonial American era find in an urban area. Approximately one million artifacts, including many eighteenth and nineteenth century ceramic artifacts, were recovered from a 1 square block area. Assisted by a National Science Foundation grant, archaeologists are working with computer scientists and digital cultural heritage specialists to develop computer assisted vessel reconstruction technology.  The researchers maintain the technology will have significant implications for archaeological artifact mending, collections management, and site interpretation.

“The President’s House” served as the residence and executive office for George Washington and John Adams, the first 2 Presidents of the United States of America. Recent archaeological excavation revealed passageways that ran from the main house to exterior buildings, where it is believed Washington housed slaves.  Slavery was illegal in Philadelphia at the time Washington resided in the house. The archaeological excavation has ignited much discussion about the role slavery played in the founding of the United States.  3D scans of the archaeological excavation were made and a digital 3D model of this house based in part on the archaeological record is being prepared.

Digital Media and computer science students are working to develop the Instant Navigator, a prototype GPS self guided tour of Independence National Historic Park.  Through the use of smartphone technology the tour will present audio and visual information about the archaeological excavations and make historic documents from the Park archives relating to the sites and other historic landmarks in the Park available to Park visitors.


historical archaeology, digital technologies, cultural heritage awareness, Colonial Philadelphia