This new paper in the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research provides a nice overview of “Virtual Archaeology in Second Life and OpenSimulator”
“Traditional approaches to virtual archaeology include dealing with research methods to capture information from heritage sites, creating models out of that information and how to present them to the public; these are intense technical procedures which might be too costly for some types of history or heritage-based projects. Virtual worlds allowed new types of models of/for heritage sites to be produced and disseminated at a fraction of the cost.
Second Life®, and its open source counterpart, OpenSimulator, are virtual world platforms with user-generated content. 3D models are created in real time and instantly rendered for all visitors. This allows amateurs and researchers create their own virtual archaeology projects easily and with few costs, and to have the resulting models immediately available to a vast community of users. This article presents an overview of four different approaches to virtual archaeology projects that are present in these platforms and that have been publicly discussed and analyzed; in particular, the last type shows a novel approach to virtual archaeology which is not found in other platforms, and explains how researchers have managed to extend the concept to new areas and develop methodologies to incorporate the validation of historical accuracy to encompass these areas.”