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USF Researchers, City of St. Petersburg Bring 3D Archeaology and Virtual Reality to Local Parks

Using the latest technology in 3D laser scanning and imaging, artifacts from several sites in the Tampa Bay area are being documented by the USF Libraries Digital Heritage and Humanities Collection.

TAMPA, Fla. (July 20, 2017) – Visitors headed to city parks in St. Petersburg will soon be able to see virtual recreations of the past and interact with 3D models of artifacts originally found near each park.

As part of a collaborative research grant with the City of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation, the University of South Florida Libraries Digital Heritage and Humanities Collection (DHHC) team is developing digital tourism tools that can be used to enhance visitor experience and help educate the community about the archaeological history in city parks.

Using the latest technology in 3D laser scanning and imaging, artifacts from a number of sites in the Tampa Bay area are being documented by the DHHC team at USF, led by research associate professor Dr. Lori Collins. Surveys have been completed at Indian Mound Park, Abercrombie Park, Maximo Park and Jungle Prada de Narváez Park. The USF Library is also using the data to create accessible digital collections that will archive and share artifacts and site information for research, education and tourism enhancements. The 3D object collections from the St. Petersburg area, is available online.

“We have been creating online and virtual collections that include re-creations of what the ancient landscape might have looked like, as well as highly accurate maps that show the shape, size, and positioning of ancient mound and middens that are today found in many of these city parks,” explained Collins, co-director of the DHHC. “Many of these sites are today hard to interpret and understand, so by using 3D modeling and visualizations, we hope to bring the past to life for park visitors.”

USF and the city will host a series of public events beginning with a demonstration of 3D technologies used in the project at Abercrombie Park on Saturday, July 22, from 10a.m. - noon. Among the planned activities are laser scanning and 3D printing demonstrations, as well as a showcase ofvirtual reality toolsthat help visitors examineartifacts and archaeological features. An additional demonstration day is planned at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 29 at Maximo Park.

Collins, DHHC co-director Dr. Travis Doering and Dr. Robert Austin, a local archaeologist with vast experience working in the Tampa Bay region, will also speak at two upcoming publiclectures. Those talks are scheduled for 6 p.m. onMonday, July 24 at the Lake Vista Recreation Center and 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26 at the Sunshine Center.

“We are encouraging the interested public to bring photographs and other information they may have about St. Petersburg archaeological sites, and participate with us in the development of exciting new digital tools,” Collins said. “We think that the use of these technologies in city parks will become a model for how libraries, land managers, and heritage tourism development can come together.”

Collins and Doering, have used similar 3D technologies to document fragile and imperiled archaeological and heritage sites around the globe. For more information about their projects, visit

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