Playing With Amphitheaters

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Playful Communication for Serious Research

This past week Will, Hugo and I met with our research professor, Sebastian Heath, who has extensive knowledge on ancient amphitheaters, particularly from the time of the Roman Empire. The three of us are taking a data visualization course outside of ITP with Sebastian, at an institute that is part of NYU called ISAW (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World). We all have great chemistry working together, and our researcher/professor Sebastian is incredibly excited to work on this project with us. Here are a few thoughts that came up when we met this week:

  • We would like to explore new ways of visualizing what it was like to attend events at amphitheaters during the Roman Empire. We will look at quantified data we have but translate it into terms that people can relate to. For size, giving a feeling of the size, for sound, giving a feeling of the crowd, and so forth.
  • Comparing events that happened in the amphitheaters back then, with events that happen in large arenas and settings today (sports event, concerts, etc.).
  • Use the artefacts that we found around amphitheaters as a way to bring these places to life (storytelling through the artefacts).


The experience we are thinking about moving towards is an mini exhibition that will have some kind of static fixture, with digital dynamic information overlaying. We are also looking to build an augmented reality component for browsing amphitheaters and using the Oculus Rift to fully immerse the visitor. We may also compare the structure of the amphitheaters the way they were initially built, with Google street views of what they look like today. Here’s an example of a street view of the Colosseum in Rome!

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