Using Building Information Modeling Programs to Understand the Built Environment of the Virgin Branch Puebloan Culture

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Conference Proceeding

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80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology



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Architecture has always been a key focus in archaeological research. This is because it dominates the context where the investigation takes place. However, there is a dearth of research concerning the vernacular architecture within the built environment of the Virgin Branch Puebloan (VBP) people on the Shivwits Plateau. This stems from the sediments of the area, which have obliterated most floor features and thus have limited the amount of architectural information that can be recovered. To compensate for this lack of structural evidence, this research utilizes architectural Building Information Modeling (BIM) programs, in conjunction with ethnographic and archaeological data, to model the construction of a VBP pueblo digitally. The BIM model, however, goes beyond visual imagery. Once constructed, the model makes it possible to carry out a variety of architectural, structural, thermal, and solar analyses. In this study, the BIM model is used to obtain information on the type of construction materials used, the labor requirements needed to construct the pueblo, and the thermal dynamics of each room. This case study demonstrates the potential of BIM programs to substantially contribute to our understanding of prehistoric lifeways.


Archaeological Anthropology | Chemistry