J.C. Thomas / G. Subsol / H. de Lumley / V. Poix / B. Mafart / J.P. Jessel / P. Torguet
(Foveaproject, France)

Prehistory is a science at the crossroad of many disciplines and requires to compile data from three main sources: the geology of the site, the environment of the fossils and the fossils. Then, researchers must handle an enormus quantity of informations.
In particular, during the excavation on the prehistoric site of Tautavel (Cave of Arago, Tautavel, France, 450 000 years BC), archaeologists have found more than 500 000 objects. The processing of these data is till now performed in 2 dimensions only and their compilation remains difficult. There is then a large requirement of 3D digital modeling.
The purpose of our study was to conceive a virtual environment of excavation, allowing a three-dimensional interaction with the archaeological data. The 3D environment is composed of the digital copy of the cave in which the objects of the archaeological database are integrated using the mapping method of Benedikt space. We have developped tools to make easy the handling of data, the visualisation and the navigation in the virtual environment : tools of filtering (focus+context), management of the level of details for the objects,…
The 3D visualisation and interaction with data should support the work of archaeologists. The prospects are multiple as to allow a virtual excavation considering the time variable, to think about an innovative interface mode using the haptic feedback and to develop a distributed platform of virtual reality.
This study was supported by the Fovea project, French National Center of Scientific Research, Society of the Information.