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Maurizio Forte, William and Sue Gross Professor

Maurizio Forte

Maurizio Forte, PhD, is William and Sue Gross Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University. He was a pioneer in digital archaeology and the first archaeologist working in a Supercomputing Center (CINECA) in the 80-90s.
He is also the founder and Director of the DIG@Lab (for a digital knowledge of the past) at Duke University and director of the ArchaeoDrone lab (Chianciano, Italy). His main research topics are: digital archaeology, Etruscan and Pre-Roman archaeology, classical archaeology, AI (artificial intelligence) and neuro-archaeology. His primary archaeological research questions concern the development, transformation and decline of ancient cities and the diachronic study of archaeological landscapes.
Archaeological fieldwork and excavations: Vulci (Italy), Doganella (Italy), Selinunte (Italy) Agrigento - Valley of the Temples (Italy), Catalhoyuk (Turkey).
Virtual Museums: Western Han Dynasty (Hong Kong) The Trajan's Puzzle (Rome); Regium Lepidi (Reggio Emilia, IT), Vulci 3000 (Italy)

He was professor of World Heritage at the University of California, Merced, (School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts) and Director of the Virtual Heritage Lab. He was Chief of Research at CNR (Italian National Research Council) of “Virtual Heritage: integrated digital technologies for knowledge and communication of cultural heritage through virtual reality systems”, Senior Scientist at CNR’s Institute for Technologies Applied to the Cultural Heritage (ITABC), and Professor of "Virtual Environments for Cultural Heritage" in the “Master of Science in Communication Technology-Enhanced Communication for Cultural Heritage”at the University of Lugano.  He received his bachelor’s degree in Ancient History (archaeology), and a Diploma of specialization in Archaeology, from the University of Bologna, and his PhD in Archaeology from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”.  He has conducted archaeological fieldwork and research projects in Italy as well as Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Kazakhstan, Peru, China, Oman, India, Honduras, Turkey, USA and Mexico.  In 2010-15 he is director of the 3D-Digging project at Çatalhöyük and since 2014 he is the director of the Vulci 3000 Project.

He is editor and author of several books including “Virtual Archaeology” (1996), Virtual Reality in Archaeology (2000), “From Space to Place” (2006), “La Villa di Livia. Un percorso di ricerca di archeologia virtuale” (2008), “Cyberarchaeology (2012),  Regium lepidi 220: Archeologia e nuove tecnologie per la ricostruzione di Reggio Emilia in eta' Romana (2017); Digital Methods and Remote Sensing in Archaeology (co-editor S. Campana, 2017); and he has written more than 200 scientific papers. He got several international awards such as the Best paper award at VSMM 2002, 2010; E-content Award 2005, 2008; Tartessos Prize on Virtual Archaeology (2010), National Geographic Award (2016), NEH-AIA research award for archaeological research 2018, NEH-Mellon Fellowships for Digital Publication Program (2021). 

Dig@Lab: Bay 10 Rm A258 Smith Warehouse

Web:, 138,815 Followers in (11/6/2022)

NeuroArchaeology: NeuroARTifact



▪ disegnare con... MAURIZIO FORTE | Ferdani | DISEGNARECON ( On line interview about virtual and cyberarchaeology (in Italian)

▪ (144) Maurizio Forte, Principles of Cyberarchaeology YouTube

▪ (144) Maurizio Forte (Duke Univ.), Vulci 3000 Project a digital challenge in cyberarchaeology - YouTube

▪ Article on “Current Archaeology Magazine” 

▪ Reggio Emilia. Creating a Virtual Roman World, pp.36-40 

▪ Interview on Cyber-archeology at ABC Australia 


▪ Cyber Archaeology – 3D Modeling unpeels the Neolithic at Çatalhöyük  

▪ in “World Archaeology”, n.61 Oct.-Nov.2013  

▪ Virtual Archaeologists Recreate Parts of Ancient Worlds,  

▪ Michael Bawaya 

▪ Science 8 January 2010: 140-141.

▪ A high tech look to ancient civilizations 


▪ Under the Tuscan sun 


▪ Cyber Archaeology at Çatalhöyük, Voiceameica Radio show 


▪ Keynote speech at Calday (UC Berkeley) 


▪ The Past: Digital Archeology and History - Our Digital Life (Ep. 1) 

▪ Our Digital Life UCTV Prime


▪ Preserving and sharing the past in 3D 


▪ Teleimmersive Heritage 


▪ New Perspectives, New Technologies (keynote speaker at IUAV, University of Ca’ Foscari, Venice, Italy) 


▪ Reconstructing China: the Virtual Western Han Dynasty (video documentary made in collaboration with the grad students M.Valesi, P. Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco, F.Galeazzi) 


▪ Cyberarchaeology at the Duke University 


▪ Second Life and Cyberarchaeology Part2-3 

▪ ▪   

▪ Q&A with “Cyber-Archeologist” Maurizio Forte


▪ World Heritage Class Digitally preserves Fort Ross 


▪ 3-D Archaeology at Çatalhöyük UC Merced Library November 15 - December 17, 2010 


▪ The Western Han Dynasty Exhibit Debuts at UC Berkeley 



▪ Ancient Roman Road Gets Virtual Life 



Contact Info:
Office Location:  233 Allen Building, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-3244
Email Address: send me a message
Web Pages:

Teaching (Spring 2023):

  • CLST 241.01, ETRUSCANS Synopsis
    Smith Wrhs 177, TuTh 03:30 PM-04:45 PM
    (also cross-listed as ARTHIST 196.01)
  • ARTHIST 305L.001, VIRTUAL MUSEUMS Synopsis
    Smith Wrhs B271, Tu 10:15 AM-11:30 AM
    (also cross-listed as ARTSVIS 305L.001, CLST 240L.001, ISS 305L.001, VMS 332L.001)
    Smith Wrhs B271, Th 10:15 AM-11:30 AM
    (also cross-listed as ARTSVIS 305L.01L, CLST 240L.01L, ISS 305L.01L, VMS 332L.01L)
  • ARTHIST 733L.001, VIRTUAL MUSEUMS Synopsis
    Smith Wrhs B271, Tu 10:15 AM-11:30 AM
    (also cross-listed as ARTSVIS 733L.001, CLST 733L.001, CMAC 733L.001, ISS 733L.001)
    Smith Wrhs B271, Th 10:15 AM-11:30 AM
    (also cross-listed as ARTSVIS 733L.01L, CLST 733L.01L, CMAC 733L.01L, ISS 733L.01L)
Office Hours:

By appointment
Office Location: Allen 227

Ph.D.La Sapienza University of Rome (Italy)1993
Research Interests: Digital knowledge of the past, Classical Archaeology, Iron Age, Etruscology, Cybernetics, Neuro-Art, Simulations, Memetics

Current projects: 3D Digging at Catalhoyuk -, Virtual Akrotiri, Virtual Fort Ross , Regium@Lepidi

My scientific activity has been particularly focused from the beginning on a strong multidisciplinary approach to the development of virtual heritage and digital archaeology. During my degree, MA, PhD and Specialization in Archaeology I have always integrated traditional courses in Ancient Art History, Etruscology, Roman and Greek Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology, Papirology, Egyptology, Pre-Colombian Archaeology, and Ancient Topography with more experimental activities in computing labs and with the use of digital technologies. My very last research is focused on the use of art as memetic transmission and in general on how cultrual information is spread out and transmitted generation by generation across different societies. I have started to use computer applications in archaeology in the early 80s during my degree in Ancient History. At that time, I was particularly attracted by the idea that digital computing could changed the methodology of research in archaeology and, in general, in the humanities. For this reason, I spent ten years working in a Supercomputing Center in Italy (CINECA, Bologna, co-fouding with other colleagues the Visual Lab, one of the first labs in Europe dedicated to visual applications and image processing in archaeology and cultural heritage. It was a very pionering experience focused on the use of techniques of computer vision for the reconstruction of artifacts, monuments and sites. Even during my PhD degree in Etruscology I have experimented advanced uses of digital technologies, remote sensing and image processing for the interpretation and reconstruction of the Etruscan city of Marzabotto (North Italy) and its landscape. All this work was aimed at integrating technology with field work data from cultural heritage sites. I define “virtual heritage” as the digital information that is derived from a physical site, whether it is an object, monument, territory, or landscape. This information must be processed both by computer programs but also, and more importantly, by our perceptions, interpretations, knowledge, cultural awareness and finally communicated through dissemination. Thus, “virtual heritage” can be said to be an ontology of cultural heritage. The context is made up of information assigned to the site and through this information we create an environment for a whole range of interaction, whether it be the imagery of simulation and immersion or the discourse of questions and exchange of ideas. The research in which I have been most involved is concerned with the reconstruction of archaeological and ancient landscapes in a virtual format. This has meant working with digital technologies such as 3D documentation, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, spatial technologies, open software WEB-VRGIS and virtual reality. Having created a virtual reconstruction, my efforts were then directed to the epistemology of this form of presentation, one aspect of eco-anthropological thinking. More specifically, this type of research begins with fieldwork and continue with a post-processing activity after returning to the laboratory. The data are collected through use of laser scanning, photomodelling, photogrammetry, DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System), spatial technologies, movies, and traditional archaeological documentation. The subsequent processing involves the input of data into 3D and creating a virtual space which presents the data in geo-spatial form. Once these steps are completed, the following procedures construct objects, models, avatars and virtual simulations. In this way, virtual heritage is available to the user for real time interaction and navigation; at this stage only off line processing is available. However, given the importance of online information, it is also important to put these reconstructions of archaeological and ancient landscape into an online form through software such as 3D Web-GIS. Once this whole process has been completed, the virtual data are available in a geospatial environment, in other words, we have completed a virtual reality system. The system allows the possibility to continue adding information, so that the simulation available to users reaches the highest scholarly standards of representation and accuracy.

Areas of Interest:

Digtial Archaeology
Roman Archaeology
Anatolian Neolithics
Virtual Reality
Serious Games
Principles of Archaeology
Virtual Heritage
Virtual Museum


Cyber-archaeology • Archaeology • Virtual Archaeology • Ecology of mind • GIS • Remote Sensing • Classical Archaeology • Cultural transmission • Neuro-archaeology

Curriculum Vitae  Bio
Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Forte, M; Trinks, I; Hinterleitner, A; Klein, M; LoPiano, A; McCusker, K; Schiel, H; Schlögel, I; Trausmuth, T; Vonkilch, A; Wallner, M; Neubauer, W, Multimodal Remote Sensing Applications in the Etruscan-Roman City of Vulci, Journal of Field Archaeology, vol. 47 no. 8 (January, 2022), pp. 501-521 [doi]  [abs]
  2. Forte, M; Danelon, N; Johnston, D; McKusker, K; Newton, E; Morelli, G; Catanzariti, G, Vulci 3000: A digital challenge for the interpretation of Etruscan and Roman cities, in Digital Cities Between History and Archaeology, edited by Forte, M; Murteira, H (2020), pp. 13-36, Oxford University Press, USA, ISBN 0197501125  [abs]
  3. Zhao, Y; Forte, M; Kopper, R, VR Touch Museum, 25th Ieee Conference on Virtual Reality and 3d User Interfaces, Vr 2018 Proceedings (August, 2018), pp. 741-742, IEEE, ISBN 9781538633656 [doi]  [abs]
  4. Lercari, N; Shiferaw, E; Forte, M; Kopper, R, Immersive Visualization and Curation of Archaeological Heritage Data: Çatalhöyük and the Dig@IT App, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, vol. 25 no. 2 (June, 2018), pp. 368-392, Springer Nature [doi]  [abs]
  5. Forte, M; Pescarin, S, Behaviours, interactions and affordance in virtual archaeology, in Paradata and Transparency in Virtual Heritage (May, 2016), pp. 189-202, ISBN 9780754675839 [doi]  [abs]
Conferences Organized

  • Space2Place, Workshop on Remote Sensing in Archaeology : Space2Place, Digital Heritage 2013. October 28, 2013 - November 2, 2013, Space2Place, Workshop on Remote Sensing in Archaeology : Space2Place, Digital Heritage 2013, October 28, 2013 - November 02, 2013  
  • 1st International Workshop on Virtual Archaeology, Museums and Cultural Tourism. September 25, 2013 - September 28, 2013, 1st International Workshop on Virtual Archaeology, Museums and Cultural Tourism, September 25, 2013 - September 28, 2013  

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