Continuing the U of A collaboration with the University of Manouba in Tunisia, professors Curtis Maughan (digital humanities) and David Fredrick (classics, game design) from the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures and graduate student researchers Rachel Murray (comparative literature) and Mitchell Simpson (English) took 360-degree photos of three historic sites in Tunisia: Dougga, Bulla Regia and Uthina.
These protected sites feature a remarkable mix of Punic, Numidian, Roman, and in some cases Amazigh structures, including theatres, baths, forums, temples, houses, and the Uthina amphitheatre.
To gain access and learn about the historical sites, the U of A team collaborated closely with professors from the University of Manouba, including Mohamed Karim Azizi, professor of game development; Hosni Ajlani, professor of 3D animation; Ines Bouraoui, professor of architecture; and Skander Belhaj, director of the Higher Institute of Multimedia Arts.
The fieldwork in Tunisia is part of a larger project, “Mediterranean 360”, which included 360-degree photography of sites in Sicily and exploratory visits to sites in Spain from June 16 to July 3. Captured with an Insta360 Pro 2 camera rig, the 360-degree photography will be used as the foundation to produce interactive and accessible virtual tours and game-based applications to teach the intercultural history of the ancient and medieval Mediterranean.
Once the sites have been captured in their current condition by the 360-degree camera, spherical reconstruction drawings made by a small team of artists can be superimposed on top of the 360-degree images to suggest what the site looked like. site at a specific historical moment. 360-degree images and reconstruction drawings can be imported into the Unity3d game engine, enabling the creation of interactive tours and game-based applications.
Working in collaborative teams, U of A undergraduate and graduate students will have a direct role in the production of these applications and therefore “Mediterranean 360” is a significant example of HIP (High Impact Practices) in the U of A. The app located in Tunisia will highlight the combined experience of students and faculty from the U of A and the University of Manouba. Working with Ryan Calabretta-Sajder, David Fredrick has served as creative director on similar Italian-language projects that leverage Unity Game Engine to create immersive narratives with interactive mechanics within 360-degree navigable environments.
Maughan, director of the Study of World Languages and Digital Humanities, looks forward to further increasing the ongoing collaboration with the University of Manouba.
“Having worked with ISAMM since 2018, I am very excited to extend this collaboration to the University of Arkansas, where we share a vision of developing curriculum and conducting research projects that promote interdisciplinary and innovative engagement with cultures. and the languages of the world,” Maugham said. . “As the only public institution of higher education in Tunisia that grants degrees in game development and 3D animation, ISAMM continues to distinguish itself in North Africa by pioneering curricula and research initiatives in virtual, augmented and mixed reality, which It is a research frontier of great interest to those passionate about the (digital) humanities at the UA”.