Roman architecture: scientists rebuild the house of Pompeii using virtual reality

A team of researchers has used virtual reality to reconstruct a Pompeian house in a bid to understand the most appealing features of Roman design and architecture.

Published in the journal Antiquity, researchers from the Department of Archeology and Ancient History at Lund University in Sweden used spatial analytics and eye tracking to monitor volunteers as they explored a virtual reconstruction of the House of Greek Epigrams, a house in northeast Pompeii which was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.

“Work and daily activities intertwined during the day. The house communicated to people the personal power and status of the owner and his family,” said Danilo Marco Campanaro, a doctoral student at Lund University and co-author of the research.

Historical records suggest that Roman homes were designed to showcase certain features while hiding others, according to a press release from Antiquity.

Previous research has found sloping walls and raised floors used to make the interiors of their homes appear larger to those looking in through the front door. The House of Epigrams, researchers say, was also once decorated with frescoes.

Due to the damage done to Roman houses, the result of centuries of neglect, weathering and volcanoes, researchers say studying these shades has proven difficult.

But using virtual reality, the scientists were able to track and measure the volunteers’ visual attention as they toured the house.

“The results of this study show how the owner of the house stimulated the visitor’s senses to convey a message of his power and wealth,” Campanaro said.

The researchers say a next step could be to include olfaction and the auditory senses.

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