Recent Research Projects and Collaborations
An international team directed by Frischer and his co-director, Dr. Peter Schertz (Jack and Mary Ann Frable Curator of Ancient Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) had the goal of increasing scholarly and public understanding of one of the most important works of Roman art in a US museum: the monumental statue of the Emperor Caligula in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The VMFA statue is the best-preserved surviving portrait of Caligula. The project took advantage of new discoveries throwing light on the statue’s hitherto unknown ancient context as well as new technologies making it possible for the team to recover such key but uncertain features as the orientation of the head, which had been broken off the body; the hands, which are missing; and the colors, which can no longer be seen. We cannot understand the statue until these expressive features have been restored to it.
The project had the following goals:
- Undertake new technical, historical, and interpretative studies of the statue;
- Present preliminary findings at a public conference;
- Make the final results available at no cost over the Internet. The project was generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (grant RZ-51221).
Click here to see the results of the project.
From 2007 to 2013, Frischer directed the SAVE project. The project focused on ways of preserving and disseminating interactive 3D digital models of cultural heritage sites, monuments, and landscapes. SAVE (an acronym standing for “Serving and Archiving Virtual Environments”) tackled the hitherto unsolved problem of how creators of models could best find an outlet for peer-reviewed scholarly publication, long-term preservation and maintenance, and secure distribution of their work to end-users. The project was generously supported by the National Science Foundation (grant IIS-1014956).
The climax of the SAVE project was creation of Digital Applications to Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, a new peer-reviewed, online journal that offers scientists the chance to publish interactive 3D models of cultural heritage artifacts along with related articles. Frischer was the founding editor-in-chief when the journal published its first article in 2013. In 2014, Gabriele Guidi, Assoc. Professor of Reverse Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, accepted the invitation to become the journal’s co-editor-in-chief.
Click here for more information.
The Roman emperor Hadrian (reigned: 117-138 CE) built a large government retreat east of Rome at Tivoli. Today, the well-preserved ruins are a World Heritage Site. The Digital Hadrian’s Villa Project, directed by Frischer in partnership with Prof. John Fillwalk (IDIA Lab, Ball State University), created a website documenting the state of the site today as well as an executable Unity application in which the ruins were restored to their ancient appearance. The digital simulation is freely available, upon request, to teachers and scholars. The project was generously supported by a private donor (who wishes to remain anonymous) and by the National Science Foundation (grant IIS- 1018512). Through a new grant (2013-14) from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the component parts of the villa (Canopus, Maritime Theater, Piazza d’Oro, etc.) will be made available from the project website on freely downloadable Unity web players.
Click here for a short video about the project.
Click here for a short video showing some of the results of the project.
Frischer directs this collaborative research project between the Universities of Virginia, UCLA, the University of Bordeaux-3, the University of Caen, and the Politecnico di Milano. The goal is to create 3D digital models illustrating the urban evolution of Rome from the first settlements in the late Bronze Age (ca. 1000 BCE) to the depopulation in the city in the middle of the sixth century CE. The present focus of research is Rome Reborn 2.0, a model of the city as it appeared in 320 CE.
For more information, click here.
For a video animation of the latest version (2.2) of the model, click here.