3D Cybermaps of Western Han Mural Tombs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


The Virtual Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Project is a joint research between UC Merced and the Jiaotong University aimed
to the digital documentation of archaeological sites, artifacts and cultural relics of the Western Han Dynasty. The outcome of this
process will be the creation of a virtual museum, based on collaborative environments, dedicated to the Western Han Dynasty and
able to integrate new archaeological datasets coming from the fieldwork activities (most part of them unpublished), monuments, and
famous collections of artifacts of the Xi’an archaeological museums.
One of the most important archaeological examples in Xi’an is represented by the mural paintings of the monumental tombs of the
Western Han Dynasty. Despite their cultural and historical importance they are at risk of being lost because of the critical conditions
of plasters and colors. The murals show a very rich repertory of subjects such as scenes of daily life, rituals and ascension to heaven.
These examples of mural paintings contain a very complex interpretation code explaining the relations between life and death during
the Western Han dynasty. A simple description of the subjects and also the 3D virtual reconstruction of the tombs are insufficient
for approaching a correct cultural interpretation. In this paper we present a preliminary case study on the semantics of the tomb M
27’s iconography (excavated in Xi’an in 2004 and documented by laser scanning) obtained through 3D virtual cybermaps. The use
of virtual-cyber mind maps emphasizes the interpretation of the spatial, religious and symbolic connections (affordances) of the
different subjects and images decorating the vault and the walls of the tomb. Through this simulation process the potential semantic
recomposition of the tomb creates new metaphors of learning and communication.


External organisations
  • External Organization - Unknown
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology


  • digital archaeology, learning process, communication, cybermap, 3D data collection, 3D reconstruction, cyber archaeology
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCyber-Archaeology
EditorsMaurizio Forte
PublisherBAR International
ISBN (Print)9781407307213
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes