An Interactive Virtual Tour of Cultural Heritage Sites: A case study of the Great Zimbabwe National Monument
Maforo, Taregererwa Josphat
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The ruins of Great Zimbabwe are a unique testimony to the Bantu civilization of the Shona between the 11th and 15th centuries (UNESCO, 2010). The study focuses on how the use of virtual environments can be applied to cultural heritage sites in the country as a way of increasing awareness and portraying the cultural diversity and significance of these sites. The 3D model developed by Heinz Ruther (2008) was used, with his permission, as the foundation for an interactive virtual tour of the Great Enclosure. As the model was drawn from range scanner data, the work entailed cleaning and repairing to remove redundant points and restore missing or deformed sections of the site. Texture maps were then developed and applied to dress the site resulting in a photorealistic approximation of the Great Enclosure. Various viewpoints and lighting were then placed in the site to facilitate navigation within the scene. However, limitations were realized in the hardware platform particularly with reference to the limited graphics card memory that acted as a bottleneck for the successful development of the 3D model as the number of polygons increased. Ideally, therefore, a hardware platform with higher specifications is therefore expected to give greater performance and better results. Additional work is therefore necessary to optimize the model, incorporate audio/visual cues and enhance the interactive nature of the resulting tool.
3D interactive models
Great Zimbabwe monument