From the Sumerians (4500 B.C. to 1900 B.C.) to the Ancient Maya Civilization (1000 B.C. to A.D. 1520), these ancient cultures continue to fascinate us as we strive to understand how they lived, what they thought, and how they viewed the surrounding world. Up to now, we've only had ancient artifacts to tell us about these cultures but if we could use technology to go one step further?
We now have all types of tools that can help us figure out more about ancient relics, tools that up until recently allow us to figure out more about ancient civilizations.
For Howard Carter, for instance, who opened the tomb of the boy King Tutankhamun a century ago and discovered the dagger of gleaming iron buried with the mummy, it might have been impossible to understand how the dagger came about without damaging the body. But in 2016, with the advancement of technology, X-ray analysis was performed on the dagger to ascertain its origin.
With recent innovations, we are getting a clearer picture of how ancient people lived and a better understanding of their culture. It is also becoming clearer how technology is a cornerstone to help us unlock several possibilities in our quest to understand ancient culture. This is why museums have to innovate. Because with innovation, they’ll be able to give museum visitors an immersive experience to transport them in time and provide a deeper understanding about ancient culture, and art.
Here are some technology that better aid our understanding of culture.
Virtual reality (V.R.).
Virtual reality immerses the user in a computer-generated environment that simulates reality through interactive devices. So by wearing virtual reality goggles, headsets, gloves, or body suits, we can better understand the cultures of Ancient Egypt that existed between 3100 B.C. to 30 B.C. or the art of Ancient and Early Imperial China (2070 B.C. to A.D. 220).
These immersive experiences through virtual reality will make us understand beyond theories how these ancient cultures lived life across the board.
With a virtual reality google, we could be able to interact with ancient art that tell stories of ancient culture. This could make art like the Aboriginal Rock Art (Australia)from Ubirr, Arnhem Land done in c.30,000-6,000 BCE to come alive in our eyes making us understand the culture of the aboriginals.
Also, smartphones with stereoscopic viewers (Google Cardboard, Daydream View, Gear VR) and tethered VR/AR headsets like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Microsoft HoloLens have brought us closer to that holodeck-like experience. Immersing yourself in a 3D representation of nineteenth-century Paris is not a fantasy. It can be done now.
C.T. scans combine a series of X-ray images taken from different angles around the body and use computer processing to create cross-sectional images (slices) of the bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues inside the body.
So with C.T. scans through mummies’ bones, we understand the mummification process in the fourth and fifth dynasties. Also, with these scans, we can better understand how certain art, like the Bhimbetka Petroglyphs created around 290,000 BCE to 700,000 BCE, came about.
3D printers use computer-aided design to create three-dimensional objects through a layering method. These powerful printers can help us understand the ancient culture better.
For instance, 3D printing can better understand the ancient Nok culture that existed between 500 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.NOK culture is a culture which provides evidence of the earliest ancient civilization of Nigeria. Nok culture is named after the city, Nok in the present Kaduna State where the first finds or objects or cultural artifacts were excavated by archaeologists in 1929. Some of their most famous art pieces that were excavated include the Nok Terracota sculpture and Iron works. In the village of Taruga, Nigeria, archaeologists have found no fewer than 13 iron-smelting furnaces. This is testament to their iron working prowess.
Therefore, By printing the prototype of broken art pieces, and corroded iron works of the Nok people, we will understand how they lived, their art and its meanings, their civilization, and their tradition, among other things.
With Augmented reality, one can experience the art of ancient cultures like one was there. This will help one understand ancient cultures better.
For instance, with augmented reality, we can experience the culture of ancient Egypt through their paintings in museums. This will surely give us a deeper understanding of the message and reasons behind these paintings. Also, for those searching for their ancestry in, say, Egypt, experiencing these paintings is sure to help them find answers from the evolution of ancient culture to the modern day.
As technology continues to improve, so does, our understanding of ancient cultures. Consequently, people will appreciate culture better and stay connected to their roots. Also, with technology, the possibilities it presents us are endless. Who knows? In the future, we could have better experiences that could simulate traveling back in time to experience the cultures of these eras. Will that happen? One has to wait and let time run its true course.