Carnuntum – Augmented Reality Experience of a Roman Gladiator School

General information

Domain: Archaeology (Roman history)
Title: Carnuntum – Roman Gladiator School
Launch: 2012
Country: Austria

Project focus

The Archaeological Park Carnuntum provides visitors with a mobile application that allows for an on-site, augmented reality experience of a Roman gladiator school and its vicinities. The school was an important facility for the amphitheatre of Carnuntum, a Roman military garrison and town situated along the Danube Limes. It was discovered in 2011 using novel subsurface prospection methods.

With a combination of 3D and mobile technologies, the augmented reality app brings the gladiator school back to life without having had to excavate it. The app is offered by the park as part of their guided tours. The 3D model and the simulation of the gladiator school can also be seen separately at the Petronell Visitor Center of Carnuntum.



The augmented reality application is the result of a cooperation between the Archaeological Park Carnuntum, the creative developers 7reasons and Wikitude, and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection & Virtual Archaeology (LBI-ArchPro).

The Archaeological Park Carnuntum provides the setting and archaeological knowledge of the gladiator school. The novel subsurface radar and scanning techniques have been developed and applied by researchers of LBI-Arch-Pro. The virtual 3D reconstruction and simulation of the gladiator school was realised by 7reasons, an Austrian creative business that specialises in archaeological and historical topics; the app for smartphones and tablets, finally, was implemented by Wikitude, an Austrian mobile augmented reality developer.

Financing / funding

For many years, the Province of Lower Austria (Land Niederösterreich) has supported projects at the Archeological Park Carnuntum. In addition, the development of the technologies for the detection of subsurface structures (i.e. the remains of the gladiator school) was supported by the Province of Lower Austria and the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (Zentralanstalt für Meterologie und Geodynamik).

Content & IPR / licensing

The archaeological knowledge and content for the augmented reality application was provided by the Archaeological Park Carnuntum and LBI-Arch-Pro. The 3D reconstruction of the gladiator school and the programming of the augmented reality app were realized by the creative developers 7reasons and Wikitude respectively. The copyrights of the material that can be freely downloaded from the websites of the project partners remain with the individual producers.

Technologies used / innovative features

The augmented reality application allows visitors to explore a 3D reconstruction of the gladiator school on-site, while walking around in the area under which the remains of the school are still buried. The application builds on the scientific work conducted by members of LBI-Arch-Pro, who in 2011 systematically explored areas outside the civilian city of Carnuntum. They used newly developed ground-penetrating radar devices to examine relevant areas that had been localized by aerial photography. The LBI-ArchPro devices allow exploring the ground three-dimensionally and producing images of the subsurface to a depth of several metres.

In one area extensive subsurface structures were discovered. These turned out to be the gladiator school of the amphitheatre of Carnuntum, which was one of the largest in the Roman Empire with a capacity of 13,000 spectators. The gladiator school is a self-contained building complex, with an inner courtyard that provided a training area for the gladiators. The sub-surface examination also revealed a heated training hall, a bathing area, extensive living quarters, and, most likely, also a gladiator burial field. To visualise and bring the gladiator school “back to life” without having to excavate it, the school has been reconstructed as a virtual 3D model and simulation that can be viewed at the Petronell Visitor Center of Carnuntum.

To allow users a more immersive experience, the 3D model has also been integrated with Wikitude’s augmented reality technology into a mobile application, which can used with smartphones and standard tablets. By localising the position of the visitor (using GPS technology), the direction in which he/she is looking (using a compass), and through a motion sensor the app is able to render views of the 3D model dynamically in the display of the mobile device.

Target users

The main users of the augmented reality app of the gladiator school are domestic and international visitors of the Archaeological Park Carnuntum. The app is offered as part of guided tours through the archaeological park.

Lessons learned

Cooperation: The augmented reality application is a good example of how scientific and cultural heritage content providers and creative businesses combined their expertise to allow the interested public experience an archaeological site in a novel way.

Content: The application has been developed based on scientific data and archaeological knowledge that allowed for reconstructing the still buried remains of the gladiator school as a detailed 3D model.

Technologies used / innovative features: By integrating the 3D simulation into a mobile augmented reality app and offering it as part of guided tours through the archaeological park, a unique visitor service is offered that combines the physical with a virtual experience of the site.

Sources and links