Digital Lab Projects

Gaming projects combine the Lab’s focus on immersive technologies with entertainment. Games have the potential not only to entertain, but to make substantive historical knowledge accessible to audiences beyond the academy.

Digital Munya 2.0: 2022 marks the launch of the next phase of my project that used the Unity video game engine to visualize an early Islamic villa (Arabic munya) of Cordoba, Spain. Read about it on the Creative Informatics Research blog here. The original Digital Munya project from 2010-12, including the navigable 3D model, is here.

2021-22 Research Assistants: Sarah Slingluff (PhD, History of Art), Deniz Vural (MSc ’21, History of Art) and Dara Etefaghi, PhD, Musical Composition)

2022 Summer Interns: Dallin Evans (PhD, Art History, Rice University) and Ana Bonachera López (MA, History and History of Art)

A Viking in the Sun: The Mediterranean Adventures of Harald Hardrada

A Viking in the Sun: Harald Hardrada and the Mediterranean on the Eve of the Crusades: A collaborative project combining academic research with public engagement in history through gaming and creative media. The first output is a tabletop game, Lion Rampant: A Viking in the Sun – The Mediterranean Adventures of Harald Hardrada. For more information visit my blog here. The game is available here.

Primary Investigator: Dr. Gianluca Raccagni (School of History, Classics and Archaeology). Co-Investigators: Dr. Glaire Anderson, Dr. James Cave (Music Department at York St John University/Management School of the University of York), Dr. Carsten Selch Jensen (Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen), Dr. Yannis Stouratis (Byzantine History, School of History, Classics and Archaeology).

Cultural Heritage projects focus on Islamic visual culture in Scottish collections

  • Digital Astrolabe Project, 2020-21

Our project was inspired by an 11th century Cordoban astrolabe signed by the intellectual and instrument-maker Muhammad b. al-Saffar, which is one of the treasures of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. We created a 3D digital model of the Cordoban astrolabe and a brief viewing guide to explain the object’s significance. Inspired likewise by Elizabeth Lawrence’s 2018 Edinburgh Book Festival astrolabe workshop, we also made two laser-cut durable models of Dominic Ford’s Make-Your-Own astrolabe, based on one described by Geoffrey Chaucer in his 14th century Treatise on the astrolabe. The wooden one shown above has the same diameter as the Cordoban instrument. Students can use the guide and the models in tandem to learn about the object preserved in the National Museum of Scotland, and to better understand how this key piece of medieval technology functioned.

Primary Investigator: Dr. Glaire Anderson. Co-Investigators Mike Boyd, Abdul Hakim Norazman (uCreate Studio), Elizabeth Lawrence (Centre for Research Collections), and PhD research assistants Sarah Slingluff (History of Art), Calum Robert Main (Animation).

  • New Imaging Technologies for Heritage: an Islamicate Celestial Globe in the National Museum of Scotland, 2020-21

This project focused on an important scientific instrument on display in the National Museum: a seventeenth-century celestial globe bearing an inscription identifying its maker as Diya’ al-Din Muhammad, and its year and place of production, 1074 AH/1663-64 CE in Lahore, in present-day Pakistan. The globe was cast as a solid sphere, using the lost-wax technique, an innovation that is attributed to this maker’s family and their Lahore workshop.

This phase focused on the materials and techniques of the globe’s facture in preparation for the project’s ultimate aim: to investigate the materiality and craft technique of the object through the heritage application of new digital medical imaging techniques, such as microtomography (Micro-CT). Enabling scholars to ‘see’ inside objects and to determine the elemental composition of materials, such techniques will help us move beyond art history’s traditional emphasis on surface and elements visible to the naked eye, and to construct a more complex object biography for this object, one based on materiality, facture, change and mobility.

Primary Investigator Dr. Glaire Anderson, Co-Investigators Prof. Melissa Terras (Centre for Data, Culture & Society, University of Edinburgh) and Dr. Tayce Phillipson (National Museum of Scotland), intern Natasha Sivanandan (MSc ’21, History of Art, Theory and Display).