“It’s not just seeing it from the viewpoint of what administrators or students wrote down, but we learn something about the builders of the campus and their lives and interactions, as well as parts of students lives that you might not otherwise get to see,” Scarry said.
The tour starts near the Carolina Inn at a stone-lined well construction workers discovered while repaving a driveway in the summer of 2018. The website also provides a 3D model of the well.
“You could describe what the well looked like or you could show a regular photo of it, but to have a 3D model that the viewer can interact with and manipulate gives them a far better sense of just exactly what that archaeological feature is,” said Steve Davis, associate director of the RLA, who worked on all of the sites.
The tour touches on many other archaeological sites, notably the Graham Memorial Site, which was the first campus excavation in 1993. Faculty and students discovered the remains of a tavern house, later to be a hotel and boarding house, called the Eagle Hotel.
Colleen Betti, research assistant and public outreach coordinator for the RLA, said she began creating the website for the virtual tour in January.
Betti also said she accompanied Davis on a walking tour to gain a better sense of the history and archaeological investigations behind each stop.
Betti said the virtual aspect of the tour allows the results of RLA’s excavations to reach a wider audience interested in archaeology and UNC history. Users can also click on additional links to Ancient North Carolinians, a virtual museum of North Carolina archaeology designed by the RLA, for more in-depth information.
“It means that anyone, anywhere in the world can basically take the walking tour from their own home and you don’t have to be on campus to do it,” Betti said.
For those who would prefer a paper brochure, they are available at the RLA, the UNC Visitors’ Center and Morehead Planetarium.
“I hope (the tour) will interest students, faculty and alumni to learn more about what lies beneath their feet that relates to the early years of the University,” Davis said.