Computer Reconstruction of the Wu Family Cemetery

(New version 2.0 – including tablet, mobile, and VR support)

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Welcome to the interactive, virtual reality tour of the “Wu Family Shrines” cemetery site. Developed by Professor Anthony Barbieri-Low (UCSB) while he was at the University of Pittsburgh, this tour is designed to give the viewer a sense of how this archaeological site in Shandong Province may have looked during the Han Dynasty, around 150-170 CE. The user can investigate each of the key monuments, read translations of the major inscriptions, and examine the pictorial carvings in the three reconstructed stone chambers at the site. Links to high-quality rubbings of the carvings and summaries of the stories and legends they allude to will help the user comprehend the visual world of a funerary complex from the second century in northeast China.

Project Methodology

The project began in the summer of 2002 with a visit to the Wuzhai Shan site in Jiaxiang County, Shandong Province. Professor Barbieri-Low and Dr. Cary Liu, Curator of Asian Art at the Princeton University Art Museum, surveyed the site and made detailed measurements and sketches of the surviving carved stones. During a subsequent visit in 2004, Professor Barbieri-Low registered GPS readings of all the main features at the site, noting their position, elevation, and orientation.

Then, using 3D modeling software (Maya), Professor Barbieri-Low created wire-frame, computer models of each monument at the site, based on published measurements, photographs, and personal observations. The basic architectural reconstruction of each shrine was based on the published work of Jiang Yingju and Wu Wenqi. Professor Barbieri-Low then covered the surfaces of each model with scaled, partially-restored copies of the rubbings from the collection of the Princeton University Art Museum. A simulated stone texture was then created for the surface, using photographic samples of actual Shandong limestone. The monuments were then placed in a virtual landscape (Vue xStream), whose basic features were based on published satellite photos of the site. The reconstruction of the overall layout of the cemetery was based on the position of standing monuments and tombs at the site, textual descriptions of similar cemeteries from the Shuijingzhu (Commentary on the Classic of Waterways), and on analogous cemetery sites excavated in Anhui Province.

The project was funded by generous grants from Princeton University Art Museum with funds from the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Central Research Development Fund of the Office of Research at the University of Pittsburgh, and the Asian Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

System Requirements

The virtual tour is best viewed on a Mac or PC with a large monitor and is compatible with all major browers. The layout may appear slightly different. The tour also runs on tablets such as iPads as well as on iOS and Android phones (in horizontal mode). Parts of the tour are also compatible with virtual reality headseats, including HTC Vive/Vive Pro, Occulus Rift, Occulus Go, and phone VR solutions like Google Cardboard. Though the system underwent testing on as many devices as possible, if you find a problem or an error in the tour, please contact Professor Barbieri-Low ( The 2019 version of the tour was created with 3D Vista Pro.

© 2019 Anthony Barbieri-Low. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of copyright law. All the images of rubbings presented in the shrines are courtesy of the Princeton University Art Museum, and may not be reproduced. The translations of inscriptions in the “Wu Liang Shrine” (Shrine no. 3) are taken from Wu Hung, The Wu Liang Shrine (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989), with minor modifications. The descriptions of the rubbings in Shrine nos. 1 and 2 are taken from Barbieri-Low, Liu, and Nylan, Recarving China’s Past (Yale University Press, 2005), and were composed by Cary Liu and Eileen Hsiang-Ling Hsu. Initial beta-testing was performed by Sheri Lullo, Ph.D. candidate, University of Pittsburgh (now Assistant Professor, Union College). Li Xiang, PhD student, University of California, Santa Barbara, performed the Chinese translations for the Chinese version of the virtual tour.