The Tomb of Lady Hao

Lady Hao was a warrior and a general, the third wife of the last Shang Dynasty Emperor. Jane Vadnal and Jeffrey Jacobson have created a three dimensional schematic of some of the layers in the tomb and some of the objects found there. This application is open source and freely available for non-commercial purposes. If you do make use of it, we only ask that you include the URL this page. 

To access Lady Hao, you need to install a plug-in for your web browser. I reccommend either Octagon or BS Contact When you are ready, start the application by clicking:
Hao Tomb.
Alternatively, you can download to get it all in one piece.

Instructions and Overview

This computer project contains information about the nature and location of 25 objects found in an ancient Chinese royal tomb. This tomb, which belonged to Lady Hao, one of the principal wives of a Shang emperor, was a pit filled with layers of objects separated by layers of packed earth. The three-dimensional model in the window on the right side of the window (the virtual tomb) shows the approximate location of these objects and provides links to more information about them. The three planes in the model represent layers of the tomb, while each object is shown as a flat image which always faces the viewer, no matter what angle it is seen from. You can use the navigation tools along the bottom of the window to move the whole set of layers and objects.



To find out more about an object, move your cursor directly over it. The cursor will change into a circle of radiating lines. When this happens, click with the left mouse button. . This will cause several things to happen:

    1. A picture of the object will appear in the window on the left side of the screen, along with a short paragraph about it, and a summary list of descriptive terms.
    2. In the model itself a red square will appear around the object you clicked on. Within the red square there is a "scale ruler" made up of five red dashes. This ruler is important because the size of the objects has been standardized- they all appear to be about the same size in the virtual tomb, but in real life, they are not. To estimate the real size of the object, compare it to the ruler. For example, the ruler is as long as the object is on the vertical dimension, then the object is five centimeters tall. If it is only a third as long, then the object is three times as long, or fifteen centimeters.
3. Two or three "attribute" buttons will appear in the upper right corner of the model window.

As mentioned above, object you clicked is highlighted in red. If you click on one of the attribute buttons all objects that share that attribute will be highlighted with a transparent green square, including the primary object. For example, if an object made of jade is selected, a button marked "Jade" will appear. If you click on the "jade" button, all the objects made of jade will be highlighted.

Additionally, there are three buttons in the lower right, which are always there:

The attribute buttons are toggles, meaning that you can turn them on and off by clicking them. You can do this in OR mode or AND mode to quickly make queries on groups or types of objects.

NOTE: The three layers of the tomb are represented with a fine white mesh. You cannot select an object if this mesh is positioned between you and the object. Click on one of the objects that is covered by the mesh to see that this is so.

The image above, shows all objects that are both for personal use and made of Jade.

Programmer's Notes (JJ)

As proud as I am of this, I admit the implementation is rather perverse. It uses over 3500 lines of VRML 2.0 and VRMLscript to implement everything, including the buttons. It would be much more efficient and technologically correct to have made HTML buttons and tied them to the VRML model with little Java scripts. However, this was my first VRML application and I was building it under deadline--didn't want to have to learn Java at the same time. At least it has the advantage of being quite robust, and flexible in some ways. Being part of the 3D model, it is now easy to do weird things with the buttons, like making them into a pop-up menu attached to the objects themselves. And, yes, I programmed this directly, rather than using any kind of tool to create it.