Using New Technologies to Explore Cultural Heritage

February 14, 2008

Back on October 5, 2007, the NEH and Italy’s Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) held the first of two planned conferences to bring together U.S. and Italian digital humanities scholars. The first conference, "Using New Technologies to Explore Cultural Heritage," focused on the use of digital tools to preserve and study cultural heritage and took place Oct. 5, 2007, in Washington, D.C.

We had a lot of great speakers from the U.S. and Italy. You can now read transcripts and view the presentations below:

Using New Technologies to Explore Cultural Heritage

A conference sponsored jointly by The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) of Italy Friday, October 5, 2007  Old Post Office Building, Room M-09 Washington, D.C.

Please note: Single copies of the published proceedings for this conference are available for free from NEH, while supplies last. Please submit your request via e-mail to @email with the name of the conference and your name and full mailing address. Please allow up to six weeks for delivery.

Opening Remarks
Bruce Cole, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities
Transcript of remarks: PDF

Roberto de Mattei, Member of the Board of Directors, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Transcript of remarks: PDF

Session I: Museums and Audiences
Andrew Ackerman, Executive Director, Children's Museum of Manhattan
Transcript of remarks: PDF

Francesco Antinucci, Director of Research, Institute of Cognitive Science and Technology, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Transcript of remarks: PDF
Power Point Presentation: PPT

Session II: Virtual Heritage
Maurizio Forte, Senior Researcher, Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Transcript of remarks: PDF

Bernard Frischer, Director, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), University of Virginia
Transcript of remarks and presentation: PDF

Session III: Digital Libraries: Texts and Paintings
Andrea Bozzi, Director of Research, Institute for Computational Linguistics, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Transcript of remarks: PDF
Power Point Presentation: PPT

Massimo Riva, Professor, Italian Studies and Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Transcript of remarks: PDF
Power Point Presentation: PPT

Session IV: Preserving and Mapping Ancient Worlds
Massimo Cultraro, Researcher, Institute of Archeological Heritage, Monuments and Sites, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Transcript of remarks: PDF

Sean Gillies, Chief Engineer, Pleiades Project, Ancient World Mapping Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Transcript of remarks: PDF
Presentation: PDF

Richard Talbert, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Ancient History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Transcript of remarks: PDF
Presentation: PDF

Session V: Monuments, Historic Sites and Memory
Arturo Agostino, Managing Director, Officina Rambaldi
Transcript of remarks: PDF

Arne Flaten, Assistant Professor of Art History, Coastal Carolina University
Transcript of remarks: PDF
Power Point Presentation: PPT

Gianpiero Perri, Project Director, Iraq Virtual Museum, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Transcript of remarks: PDF

Closing Remarks
Brett Bobley, Director, Digital Humanities Initiative, National Endowment for the Humanities
Transcript of remarks: PDF

Participant Biographies

Andrew S. Ackerman has served since 1990 as Executive Director of the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM), where he is responsible for the institution's management and artistic direction. He is project director of the NEH-funded Gods, Myths and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece, an exhibition that utilizes innovative technology formats and original artifacts to explore Ancient Greece. His museum career includes teaching history and natural science at The Exhibit Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Director of Education and Assistant Director of The Jewish Museum in New York City. He was Director of the Arts in Education Program of the New York State Council on the Arts and area supervisor and field supervisor of the Emeq Hefer Regional Project, an activity that is reflected in his publication, Israel in Antiquity. He has served as President of the Association of Children's Museums and is a member of the Executive Committee of the New York City Arts Coalition.

Arturo Agostino, a lawyer, is managing director of Officina Rambaldi, headed by Carlo Rambaldi, a three-time Oscar winner for special effects. Over the last few years, Mr. Agostino has designed and collaborated on the implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing cultural heritage. His projects include Parco storico rurale ed ambientale della basilicata (Basilicata Historical, Rural and Environmental Park, 2001); the exhibition "Mille Italie Una Patria" (realized in Rome in the V ittoriano under the high patronage of the President of the Republic in 2001); and Parco della memoria storica di S.Pietro Infine (Historic Memory Park in S. Pietro Infine, 2006). Mr. Agostino collaborated on the research project Consolidamento dei legami amministrativi delle regioni Ob. 1 con l'area del Mediterraneo: rafforzamento delle competenze nel settore della cooperazione in campo culturale (Reinforcement of Administrative Links of Ob. 1 Regions Within the Mediterranean Area: Strengthening of Competences in the Sector of Cooperation in the Field of Culture). Mr. Agostino is project manager of the initiative on cultural and tourist heritage enhancement of the Town of Matera, which is financed by the European Union (site inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List). He is a consultant for the Presidency of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry of the Senate of the Italian Republic.

Francesco Antinucci takes part in the Scientific Council of the Cultural Patrimony Department of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). Dr. Antinucci is Director of Research at the Institute of Cognitive Science and Technology of the CNR. In his research, he has investigated the ontogenetic development and phylogenetic evolution of cognitive skills (language and thought). He is currently researching communication and cognitive processes in relation to the utilization of interactive computer-based technologies. Within this framework, he has developed many virtual reality applications and prototypes of multimedia communication projects. Dr. Antinucci was a member of the faculty in the Department of Psychology of the University of California, Berkeley, and was a researcher at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). He is currently Professor of "Museal Communication" on the faculty of the School of Cultural Preservation, University of Tuscia.

Brett Bobley serves as the Chief Information Officer for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is also the Director of the agency's Office of Digital Humanities (ODH). Under ODH, Brett has put in place new grant programs aimed at supporting innovative humanities projects that utilize or study the impact of digital technology. Brett has a master's degree in computer science from the Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago. In 2007, Brett was recognized by the President of the United States for his exceptional long-term accomplishments with a Presidential Rank Award.

Andrea Bozzi graduated with honors in glottology in 1972 and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Pisa (maxima cum laude) in linguistics. In 1974, he started working as a researcher at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), and at present he is Director of the Institute for Computational Linguistics of the CNR in Pisa. He is coordinator of all the national linguistic projects of the CNR. Dr. Bozzi was a professor of computational linguistics at the University of Siena for nine academic years. This academic year, he is teaching philology of digital documents at the University of Pisa. Dr. Bozzi is author of numerous scientific publications in the field of computational linguistics and philology (electronic textual criticism). He is also a member of the International Evaluation Panel (ESF, Strasburg, and INSA, Lyon). He is co-author of two patents ("Automatic Morphological Analyzer for Latin" and "Neural Network System" for the automatic transcription of ancient printed books). He has coordinated numerous projects of the CNR, the Italian Ministries of University and Cultural Heritage, and the European Commission (BAMBI, CHLT, COMTOOCI). Dr. Bozzi has organized a number of international conferences, including the Euroconference "Philological Disciplines and Digital Technology," sponsored by the European Science Foundation. He participated in the first Scientific Committee of the Infrastructural Project approved by the French government for the use of digital technology in Human and Social Sciences (TGE ADONIS). Dr. Bozzi was appointed to the post of Directeur de Recherche sur poste rouge by CNRS at the École Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines in Lyon.

Massimo Cultraro is a Ph.D. archaeologist and researcher with the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Istituto per i Beni Archeologici e Monumentali, Catania (IBAM). He is Assistant Professor of Aegean Prehistory at the University of Palermo. In 2001, he was Visiting Professor at Brown University. Dr. Cultraro is a member of the Archaeological Institute of America. He is interested in the prehistory of the Aegean world and of the Eastern Mediterranean. Since 1990, he has served as director for the Italian excavations at Poliochni, the Early Bronze Age site in the island of Lemnos (Greece). He has also worked in Crete, focusing on the Minoic civilization (Tholos Tomb at Haghia Triada and the settlement of Prinias). Since 2002, in cooperation with P. Xella, he has carried out a CNR scientific project on the study of religion and rituals in the Ancient Mediterranean. He is coordinator of the international project ARCANE, on the synchronization of regional chronologies for the third millennium B.C. in the Mediterranean area ( In 2007, Dr. Cultraro served as scientific director of the Iraq Virtual Museum, a project funded by the CNR and the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Dr. Cultraro's publications include articles, essays, book reviews and two books on the Bronze Age in Greece: L'anello di Minosse. Archeologia della regalità nell'Egeo preistorico (Milan, 2001), and I Micenei. I Greci prima di Omero (Rome, 2005).

Arne Flaten is Assistant Professor of Art History at Coastal Carolina University. Professor Flaten is the co-founder and co-director of the Ashes2Art project, which received a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant in 2007. Professor Flaten's research focuses on the Italian Renaissance, in particular the art market of the 15th century. More recently, his research has included Ancient Greece and digital reconstructions of Classical monuments. His publications include articles, essays, book reviews, catalogue and encyclopedia entries in Word & Image, Oculus, the Chronicle for Higher Education, The Art Market in Italy, Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, Encyclopedia of Sculpture, Renaissance Quarterly, the American Numismatic Society Magazine, and various exhibition catalogues and conference proceedings. His book, The Middeldorf Collection: Medals and Plaquettes 15th to 20th Centuries (Indiana University Press), is expected in 2008. He also is contributor and co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays on Renaissance art and culture. Professor Flaten earned a B.A. in studio art and English literature at St. Olaf College in 1989 and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his M.A. (1996) and Ph.D. (2001) in art history from Indiana University-Bloomington. Professor Flaten has received grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Commission (1998/99), the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (2000/01), the Renaissance Society of America (2000/01), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (which he declined), the Samuel H. Kress Foundation (1999/00; 2001/02), and the J. Paul Getty Research Institute (2005).

Maurizio Forte is Chief of Research for the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). He works in the are of virtual heritage, specializing in integrated digital technologies for knowledge and communication of cultural heritage through virtual reality systems. Dr. Forte is also a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage (CNR) and coordinator of the Virtual Heritage Lab. Dr. Forte received his degree in ancient history (archaeology), and his diploma of specialization in archaeology from the University of Bologna, and his Ph.D. in archaeology from the University of Rome "La Sapienza." He has coordinated archaeological fieldwork and research projects in many different countries, including Italy, Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Kazakhstan, Peru, China, Oman, and Mexico. Dr. Forte is the editor and author of several books, including Virtual Archaeology (1996), Virtual Reality in Archaeology (2000), From Space to Place (2006), and he has written 180 scientific papers. His current research interests include virtual reality, geographic information systems, spatial technologies, virtual reconstruction of archaeological landscapes, and epistemology of the virtual. Recently, Dr. Forte organized two international exhibitions of virtual archaeology: "Building Virtual Rome" and "ArcheoVirtual." Dr. Forte was the winner of the "Best Paper Award for Cultural Merit" at the International Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia (VSSM) in 2002. He also won an E-Content Award in the category of E-Learning in 2005.

Bernard Frischer is Professor of Art History and Classics at the University of Virginia. He also serves as Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), which was awarded a Digital Humanities Initiative Challenge Grant by the NEH earlier this year. Professor Frischer is the author of five books and many articles on virtual heritage and on the classical world and its survival. He received his B.A. in classics from Wesleyan University in 1971 and his Ph.D. in classics from the University of Heidelberg in 1975. He taught Classics at UCLA from 1976 to 2004. He has been a guest professor at the University of Pennsylvania (1993), the University of Bologna (1994), and held the post of Professor-in-Charge of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (2000-01). He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a Fellow of the Michigan Society of Fellows, a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and he has won research fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (1981, 1996) and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (1997). From 1996 to 2003 he directed the excavations of Horace's Villa, sponsored by the American Academy in Rome, and from 1996 to 2004 he was founding director of the UCLA Cultural Virtual Reality Laboratory. The lab was one of the first in the world to use 3D computer modeling to reconstruct cultural heritage sites. Professor Frischer has overseen many significant modeling projects, including "Rome Reborn," the virtual recreation of the entire city of ancient Rome within the Aurelian Walls. In 2005 he was given the Pioneer Award of the International Society for Virtual Systems and Multimedia.

Sean Gillies is a computer programmer and a pioneer in the field of open source geographic information systems (GIS). He has been a member of MapServer Project's Steering Committee and now leads the GIS-Python Laboratory, an international effort to develop excellent GIS tools for the Python programming language. He publishes an influential blog on the subjects of the geospatial industry, open source software, and the Web. He is currently employed by the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he is the Chief Engineer on the NEH-funded Pleiades Project.

Steven Johnson is the best-selling author of five books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience. His writings have influenced everything from the way political campaigns use the Internet, to cutting-edge ideas in urban planning, to the battle against 21st-century terrorism. His most recent book, The Ghost Map, was one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2006 according to Entertainment Weekly. Drawn from one of the defining moments in the invention of modern life, The Ghost Map is a gripping case study in how change happens, the turbulent way in which wrong or ineffectual ideas are overthrown by better ones. Mr. Johnson has also co-created three influential Web sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby-Award-winning community site,, and most recently the hyperlocal media site Mr. Johnson is a contributing editor to Wired magazine and a Distinguished Writer In Residence at the New York University Department of Journalism. He lectures widely on technological, scientific, and cultural issues.

Roberto de Mattei is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Cassino and he teaches History of Christianity at the European University in Rome. Dr. de Mattei has been Vice President of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (until July 2007) and is still a member of the Board of Directors in charge of the Human Sciences Sector. He is also a member of the Board of Guarantors of the Italian Academy (Columbia University, New York) and the Board of Directors of the Italian Historical Institute for the Modern and Contemporary Age. Dr. de Mattei is President of the Lepanto Foundation (Washington, D.C.) and he was Advisor to the Italian Government on International Affairs from February 2002 to May 2006. He is the author of numerous books and publications which have been translated into a variety of languages as well as a regular contributor to many Italian and international journals and newspapers.

Gianpiero Perri is Project Manager of the Baghdad Virtual Museum within the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). He was coordinator and general director of several different cultural communication projects, especially relating to museum-scenographical and multimedia designs. Examples of Dr. Perri's work include Mille Italie, una Patria, a multimedia design project about the Day of Italian Republic celebrations (Vittoriano - Roma 2002); Historiale di Cassino, a multimedia museum project about the Battle in Montecassino during the Second World War (Cassino, 2004-2005); and Understanding and Welcome Centre of the Memory Park San Pietro Infine, about the Battle in San Pietro Infine during the Second World War (San Pietro Infine - CE, 2006-2007). Dr. Perri has created tools for cultural patrimony evaluation, including the optic theatre for the Archaeological Museum Lavinium (Pomezia, 2004); and "Archaeology in Val D'Agri," a study about Roman history in the archaeological site of Grumento (2006). Dr. Perri also created study and evaluation tools for the Orchids Valley: Ogres and Goddesses: The Secret Fascination of the Orchids (Town of Sassano for Provincial Board of Salerno, 2006). Dr. Perri was a member of the Art Commission - Virtual Museums of the Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities. He is a member of the Scientific Council of the Cultural Heritage Department of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche.

Massimo Riva is Professor of Italian Studies and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. Professor Riva's engagement with information technology in both teaching and research has led to the creation of several award winning online projects, such as The Decameron Web, supported by two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1999-2002). Most recently, he and his collaborators were awarded an NEH grant for the creation of a Virtual Humanities Lab at Brown University (2004-06). Professor Riva holds a Laurea in Philosophy from the University of Florence and a Ph.D. in Italian literature from Rutgers University. His publications include: Saturno e le Grazie. Ipocondriaci e malinconici nella cultura italiana del Settecento (Palermo: Sellerio, 1992); Melanconie del Moderno. Disagio della nazionalità e critica dell'incivilimento nella letteratura dell'Ottocento (Ravenna: Longo, 2001); Italian Tales: An Anthology of Contemporary Italian Fiction (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004). Professor Riva is also the author of numerous essays on topics ranging from medieval and early modern to contemporary literature, including several articles (in both Italian and English) on the application of computing to the studying and teaching of Literature.

Richard J.A. Talbert is William Rand Kenan, Jr., Professor of Ancient History on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Talbert is a leading scholar of ancient geography and the idea of space in the ancient Mediterranean world. Connected to this spatial research is a major project on the Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger Table), a copy of an ancient Roman map preserved in a Medieval version. For over a decade, Professor Talbert was Director of the American Philological Association's Classical Atlas. The resulting Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (funded by the NEH) and accompanying Map-by-Map Directory (1,400 pages in two printed volumes, and on CD-ROM) were published by Princeton University Press in fall 2000. The work of the project is being expanded and updated by the Ancient World Mapping Center established at UNC, Chapel Hill, especially through its ambitious `Pleiades' initiative, funded by NEH. Professor Talbert received his education at The King's School Canterbury and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, where he gained Double First Class Honours in Classics (1968), followed by a Ph.D. (1972). Cambridge granted him an honorary Litt.D. in 2003. He is also a Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute. His study The Senate of Imperial Rome (Princeton University Press, 1984) won the American Philological Association's Goodwin Award of Merit in 1985.