Rethinking the Past

AI Rethinks the Past:
Etruscan & Roman Landscapes Reimagined

April 22 – May 24, 2024
Agora Gallery (Opening at 6:00 p.m., April 22)
Rubenstein Arts Center
Duke University
2020 Campus Dr, Durham, NC 27708

This exhibition will be the first in the world to use artificial intelligence technologies to simulate and reconstruct Etruscan and Roman landscapes and environments in a range of 1300 years of human history (1st millennium BCE-3rd century CE). It will be founded exclusively on scientific analyses and paleoenvironmental data.

This cutting-edge initiative at the Duke Art Center will be accessible to Duke students and faculty, but it will be designed specifically with a large audience in mind. Beyond this exhibition, the digital pedagogy aims to explain the scientific process of reconstructing the past using highly sophisticated methods of investigation, with a particular emphasis on the environment as foreground and not as background to human activities. The study of ancient environments can reveal extremely complex phenomena, such as human and natural transformations resulting from climate change, land use, deforestation, cultivations, migrations, animals’ activities and related topics. This analysis can also be used to consider the importance of learning from the past in order to comprehend the future. 

Specifically, the exhibition will present new, unpublished information gleaned from ongoing archaeological excavations and remote sensing surveys. The primary case studies will focus on extremely significant archaeological sites in Italy, such as Roselle (Tuscany) and Vulci (Latium) in the pre-Roman and Roman period. Duke University, the University of Siena, and the Universities of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy are collaborating internationally on these investigations. 

Exhibition Components

Real Time AI Image Generator: Interactive Playground
Pliny the Elder AI Chatbot
Vulci Cistern Touchscreen
AI Generated Landscapes
AI Virtual Reality Vulci Tour
3D Printed Pollen Models