Advanced Imaging & Visualisation technologies in archaeology

Advanced imaging and visualisation technologies are revolutionising archaeological views of the past, from geophysics to the creation of virtual worlds. Today Archaeologists cannot fully understand the past without such digital technologies.

The Hewlett Packard (HP) Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (HP VISTA) was established in partnership with HP and the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at Birmingham in 2003. It provides a base for academic research and application development for spatial analysis, visualisation and imaging in archaeology and interdisciplinary studies. It is one of the best-equipped archaeological research visualisation laboratories in Europe. The Centre is also a leading partner in the AWM-funded Visualisation and Imaging Network for West Midlands research and it benefits from partnerships with a range of commercial groups.

Facilities in the HP VISTA Centre enable the capture, analysis, manipulation and display of large digital archaeological data sets. Equipment includes the latest HP SV7 scaleable visualisation system and a local Itanium computing cluster for parallel processing. Data capture support includes a wide range of geophysical equipment, 3D surface scanners and digitisers capable of capturing data from object to landscape level. Haptic and VR workstations are available. Projection facilities run from high-resolution plasma screens, an Elumens Visionstation, portable stereo projection systems and a Fakespace Powerwall. The Centre also maintains an Access GRID node for multi-site international video conferencing as well as an ArcIMS internet map server. With such unparalleled facilities and opportunities for postgraduate and postdoctoral research and training, HP VISTA and the IAA provide computer technology for tomorrow's archaeologists in one of Britain's foremost research universities.

Examples from a broad variety of visualisation projects, ranging from objects through to large landscapes and regions, include:

  • Reconstructing a 7th Century BC Grecian Cup
  • The Cuneiform Digital Palaeography Project
  • The Stonehenge Barrows Project
  • Virtual Wroxeter Roman Fort
  • GIS Approaches to Regional Analysis: A Case Study of the Island of Hvar
  • Military Logistics
  • Exploring the Inundated prehistoric landscapes of the North Sea

A 3D scan of the Darby blast Furnace at Ironbridge



Professor Vince Gaffney, HP Visual and Spatial Technology Centre
Tel: 0121 414 7632