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Archaeology Graduate Student Smeltzer Presents Paper on Virtual Archaeology

Marion Smeltzer, a graduate student in the M.A. in Applied Archaeology Program, presented a paper co-authored with Anthropology and History faculty members at the 2011 meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) USA in Berkeley, California on May 7, 2011.

Marion Smeltzer’s avatar, Nova Saunders, in the Maya section of IUP Archaeology IslandThe paper, “Virtual Archaeology: Public Archaeology in Second Life,” was presented in a session on Archaeology in Contemporary Media. Co-authors included Drs. Beverly Chiarulli, Ben Ford, and Sarah Neusius in the IUP Anthropology Department and Dr. R. Scott Moore in the History Department.

At right: Marion Smeltzer’s avatar, Nova Saunders, in the Maya section of IUP Archaeology Island

The presentation described the creation of the IUP Second Life Archaeology Island. The virtual world includes sections on Roman, Maya, Late Woodland Pennsylvania, and underwater archaeological sites and can be used to orient project participants as well as provide the public with the opportunity to “virtually” travel through time.

Archaeologists have effectively used the Internet as a vehicle for public outreach for the past fifteen years. As new technologies develop, new opportunities for public education also appear. Virtual reality environments like Second Life provide interactive experiences for the public as well as for the classroom.

The theme of TAG Berkeley 2011 was Archaeology “of and in” the Contemporary World. Participants were invited to present on the contemporary social context of archaeology.

The conference was sponsored by the Archaeological Research Facility at the University of California–Berkeley. TAG has been organizing an annual meeting in the United Kingdom since 1979, with the aim of promoting debate and discussion of issues in archaeological theory.

Smeltzer has been the chief developer of Archaeology Island for the past two years. She is currently working with the Center for Northern Appalachian Studies to add a section on Archaeology Island about local Civil War history.

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