Mayaskies.net builds on the field work completed for Tales of the Maya Skies, a full-dome planetarium production that tells the story of ancient Maya cosmology. For the first time at any major Maya archaeological site, accurate 3D scan documentation was completed, both for the site and many of its most important museum objects. Funded by the National Science Foundation and Instituto Politécnico Nacional, field work for Maya Skies yielded highly precise digital visualizations of structures and artifacts from Chichén Itzá. The interdisciplinary project yielded new research findings in the fields of archaeology, art history and computer vision. Beyond site documentation, the project has also yielded the first accurate views of what Chichen Itza looked like in Antiquity.
You can visit the site with this link: The Maya Skies Archive
All of the data from the film is now available for public access at mayaskies.net. The site also provides extensive PDF and video material built to show different applications for the data. In addition to this dissemination material, open source tools are included in the release. The release includes web tools to allow humanities researchers to view and discuss their own data, and a suite of tools that enable science centers to create and share their own full dome films. These tools include:
Additional tools released on the site include plug-ins for several CGI rendering software packages (Radiance, Sunflow, and Fryrender) and forums to discuss the ongoing uses of the data archive.
Tales of the Maya Skies was conceived by Alexandra Hall, former Executive Director of Chabot Space & Science Center, during a visit to Chichén Itzá in 2004. Ms. Hall was struck by the beauty and astronomical alignments of the architecture at Chichén Itzá, and upon her return to the Science Center determined to create a digital dome show showcasing the astronomical achievements of the Maya. Convinced that a full dome planetarium show on the Maya would provide a rich educational experience for visitors, she applied for and received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to produce the show and embark on research to determine the affect of such a show on learning.
INSIGHT led the digital documentation and reconstruction effort. On-site digital scanning at Chichen Itza was provided by INSIGHT and CyArk, a non-profit group and INSIGHT partner based in Oakland, California. Both the documentation and reconstruction work was included in Chabot Space and Science Center's full dome film Tales of the Maya Skies, now playing in planetarium-style 'full dome' theaters around the world.
For a short film trailer, please see: Tales of the Maya Skies
Data-gathering expeditions to Chichén Itzá, for Tales of the Maya Skies, begin in 2006, initially funded by the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California. In the above photograph, Maya Skies Director John Weiley and archaeologist Donald Hart are seen climbing El Osario, one of the structures seen in the film. Below, John climbs a ladder to join ArtsLAB director David Beining atop the Caracol. The Caracol is thought by many to be an ancient observatory.
Current Questions in Authenticity. This day-long symposium at UC Berkeley will be held February 3, 2012, as is open to the public. Several people on the INSIGHT team will be participating. The event is free and open to the public; RSVP to:
INSIGHT's Kevin Cain is serving on the International Scientific Committee for VAST 2011. The International Symposium of Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Culture Heritage (VAST) conference will be held October 18-21, 2011, in Prato, Tuscany, Italy. Kevin previously co-chaired VAST 2004, gave the keynote for VAST 2003 and has presented papers in other years.
Random Control has featured INSIGHT renderings of Chichen Itza here. Thanks to our friends at Random Control for kindly selecting some of our Fryrender images as their second 'Image of the Moment'.