Asee peer logo

Digital Graphics and Virtual Reality for the Presentation of Ancient Roman Construction Techniques

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Building Information Modeling (BIM) in Construction Education

Tagged Division


Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.546.1 - 26.546.19



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Adrian Hadipriono Tan The Ohio State University

visit author page

Adrian H. Tan is a graduate student at the Ohio State University. He has a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering and an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the Ohio State University, and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in civil engineering and construction with a focus on computer graphics and virtual simulation for engineering education.

visit author page


Fabian Hadipriono Tan P.E. The Ohio State University

visit author page

Fabian Hadipriono Tan has worked in the areas of construction of infrastructures and buildings, failure assessment of buildings and bridges, construction accident investigations, forensic engineering, ancient buildings, ancient bridges, and the ancient history of science and engineering for over 40 years. The tools he uses include fault tree analysis, fuzzy logic, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

visit author page

author page

Frank M. Croft Jr. P.E. Ohio State University

Download Paper |


DIGITAL GRAPHICS AND VIRTUAL REALITY FOR THE PRESENTATION OF ANCIENT ROMAN CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUESIn the field of construction engineering, the use of computer imaging has become instrumental in thecreation of educational simulations, which can be used to present techniques and details in a mannerthat is easily understood by a general audience. Virtual reality can be considered as an extension of thispractice, due to the immersive effect that virtual simulations can pose, which will enable the client toview a process in real time from any angle and analyze the various specific methods involved in itsprogression. Because it is increasingly used in the simulation of modern buildings and constructionprojects, the same system can be combined with archaeology and historical studies as a means ofdemonstrating the construction of ancient monuments. This same technique can also be used to presentthe various aspects of ancient engineering to historians and archaeologists, which will enable them tounderstand the specifics of various monuments more clearly.For this specific simulation, the intent is to replicate the construction of the Roman Colosseum – aunique undertaking – which can be adjusted for presentation to various audiences, ranging fromacademic scholars in history or engineering to students in relevant topics. The intention is to recreateeach step of the construction of this monument and, aside from a full assembly of the structure that canbe viewed from both the inside and outside within a realistic environment, specific processes can alsobe highlighted and demonstrated within the various sectors of the construction timeline. To implementthis process, a complete model was initially created using engineering graphics software that couldtheoretically be constructed based on the latest architectural data and broken up into individualfragments for processing. This “top-down” approach, while usable for simulating the completedmonument, presented a risk of large amounts of data slowing down the simulation process, with themeasures taken to reduce the processing load being implemented at the cost of model accuracy andrealism, particularly in the interior. In contrast, a more updated method, referred to as a “bottom-up”approach, may be more viable both for the modeling process and for the simulation, as it replicates thevarious steps individually and realistically and is therefore more compatible with a real-time simulatedreconstruction. This use of virtual reality is therefore advantageous because the demonstration ofconcepts such as operations of construction, labor organization, and the prominent architecturalstrategies of the era can be set up via a bottom-up approach which both streamlines feature complexityand presents data in a clear and comprehensive manner.The analysis of this prospect involves the most up-to-date simulation that can be created from thecurrent research, which uses the top-down approach. This project will be beta-tested by a sampleaudience which provides feedback on realism, informativeness, accuracy, and authenticity, along withprofessionals in various fields, including history, archaeology, architecture, and engineering. In thisway, the program can be refined to convey the most up-to-date and consistent information, opening upnew possibilities for digital education in all of these fields. Figure 1: A reconstructed quadrant used to show the construction process of the first floor. Figure 2: A digital reconstruction of the erection process of a travertine wall inside the Colosseum.Figure 3: A model of the construction progress of the Colosseum, with the floors created using a level template.

Tan, A. H., & Tan, F. H., & Croft, F. M. (2015, June), Digital Graphics and Virtual Reality for the Presentation of Ancient Roman Construction Techniques Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23884

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015