Virtual tabernacle and temple experience

Anathea Portier-Young, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Duke Divinity School

Project Description

Portier-Young applied to the CIT for funding to adapt a publicly available 3D model of the ancient Israelite Tabernacle and Temple for for viewing in the Duke Immersive Virtual Environment (DiVE), by students in her course “Introduction to Old Testament Interpretation.” Portier-Young wanted students to better understand the design of the site and its use in worship activities by seeing the site on a full scale “virtual” tour.

The Virtual Tabernacle is a model of a key worship site used by the ancient Israelites; the model allows the user to see the layout of the site and explore it as a “walkthrough.” Since there is only minimal evidence in original texts about the site’s layout and construction, the model provided a starting point for discussions about interpretation of Old Testament texts.

Student assistants working with the DiVE director adapted the existing 3D model for the display equipment in the facility. In addition, funding was provided for a student assistant to handle the logistics of testing the model and taking the 170 students in the course on the tour in small groups.

All of the students in Portier-Young’s class viewed the tour and several faculty from the Divinity School examined the model to consider using it in their own courses. Portier-Young developed a survey instrument for individuals who viewed the model. The survey results indicated that the students felt the model increased their comprehension of the ancient site and how it was used; viewing the model in an immersive environment allowed the students to see the actual scale of the site and gain a deeper understanding of the site’s components and explore open questions about how worship would have been conducted, based on evidence in the Old Testament texts.

Project start date: 1/25/2007
Funding awarded: $3,325