3D reconstructions of selected Aegean prehistoric sites

The use of 3D sophisticated visualizations and reconstructions of any preserved architectural remains is becoming more frequent in the modern archaeology. In this way, some ancient cities (e.g. Rome reborn – http://www.romereborn.virginia.edu/; Byzantium1200 – http://www.byzantium1200.com/index.html) or individual structures (e.g. various ancient structures in Greece, Italy, Asia Minor and North Africa – http://www.klassische-archaeologie.uni-hd.de/forschung/3Dmodelle.html) were reconstructed. In some archaeological specializations, for example in Minoan archaeology which is concerned with the studies of prehistoric Crete (especially from the end of the Neolithic till the end of the Bronze Age, i.e. approximately 2nd half of 4th millennium – ca 1100/1050 BC), the 3D models created by computers are still applied relatively rarely. The first example of such reconstructed Minoan structure, as far as the authors know, appeared on the website of the Institute for Classical Archaeology of Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in June 1998


When studying the Minoan architecture, archaeologists have placed particular emphasis on its typology, chronological development, and archaeological findings inside the structure and the information these findings provide, as well as what the construction can tell us about the site and the society as a whole. Buildings are viewed more as artefacts rather than specific living space created by man to serve multiple functions such as storage, production, rituals, etc. Although there are also archaeological studies that deal with aspects of the design and structural particulars, those studies have never concentrated on details, mainly due to the fragmentary state of the preserved remains and the limited information provided from the archaeological sources.

To receive a comprehensive understanding of all aspects and to extend the knowledge of Minoan architecture, besides “art-historical” and “archaeological” understanding, it is necessary to apply completely “structural-technical” interpretation and approach, i.e. verification, clarification and supplementation of concepts of static and building-constructional functioning of buildings. For the purposes of this project, it specifically means to apply static, structural and technological knowledge and regularities in the process of reconstruction of the Minoan structures. Contrast of current archaeological findings with the methodology of architectural and structural building design can bring a new chapter in research and knowledge not only for Minoan, but all the prehistoric Aegean architecture.

The ideal 3D reconstructions of two Minoan rural sites – Livari Cheromylia and Agios Antonios Chomatas Site 9 – have been created in the framework of this project since 2011.

Livari Cheromylia, a Middle to Late Minoan site (c. 2nd mill. BC), is located to the west of the bay of Livari, resting on the slopes of a low hillock mainly on its south and west sides. It rises several dozen meters at the north-west above the shoreline of the Libyan Sea. The east and north-east sides of the hillock are steep, whereas the western slope, also formed by several terraces, is gentler and the ridge merges naturally with the adjoining one. At the south and south-west a modern dirt road (chomatodromos) runs along the foothill. This southern slope, in the east, suddenly falls into the sea with a steep 5 meter cliff. The residential area of the prehistoric settlement forms a total of four clearly defined buildings (Buildings I, II, IV and Structure V) built from massive blocks of local stone, with three of them consisting of more than one room, and 12 indisputably identified and clearly visible wall segments. All these architectonic remains with a high concentration of surface finds, mostly ceramic, are located in an area ca. 80–90 x 60 m across.

Agios Antonios Chomatas Site 9 has been discovered within Kavousi-Thrifti Survey project and has not been excavated until the present. It is located on northern coast of Eastern Crete, to the north of Kavousi village, on a plateau of the mountain massif of Chomatas, which rises up directly on the coast of Mirabello bay. Its western side is formed by cliffs, eastern side by steep slope which is formed into terraces in its higher parts. Remains of a big building of a rural character have been preserved on one of the plateaus in the size of approximately 30 x 20 m southwards and slightly below the mountain peak (the site altitude is 213.3 m). It was enclosed by a wall along the northern, eastern and southern edges of the plateau. Unfortunately, the basement and walls of the building have been preserved to the height of maximum few dozens of centimetres and were built from rough or only partially worked massive blocks of grey limestone with the length of up to 1 m in the technique of the sc. Cyclopean or oncolithic masonry. The entrance to the walled premises of the site was probably placed in the north; the entrance into the building itself is bordered with two vertical stone blocks (orthostates).

See also:

Alusik, T. (with contribution by M. Chalupka and D. Kopernicky), 2011: 3D Virtual Reconstructions of Minoan Rural Sites: The Case of Livari Cheromylia (East Crete). In: Remondino, F. – El-Hakim, S. (eds.): Proceedings of the 4th ISPRS International Workshop 3D-ARCH 2011: “3D Virtual Reconstruction and Visualization of Complex Architectures”, Trento, Italy, 2-4 March 2011. International Archives of Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XXXVIII-5/W16, 2011. http://www.int-arch-photogramm-remote-sens-spatial-inf-sci.net/XXXVIII-5-W16/537/2011/isprsarchives-XXXVIII-5-W16-537-2011.pdf

Sovarova, D. – Alusik, T., 2013: Rekonstrukce prehistorických archeologických lokalit na Krétě: Agios Antonios Chomatas Site 9. (Reconstruction of Prehistoric Archaeological Sites in Crete: The Case of Agios Antonios Site 9) In: Holubec, P. (ed.): Člověk, stavba a územní plánování 7 (Man, Structure and Urban Planning 7), Prague, p. 217-25.

Alusik, T. – Sosnova, A. B., 2014: Möglichkeiten einer 3D-Rekonstruktion der Architektur und der Fundorte auf dem minoischen Kreta. In: Trinkl, E. (Hrsg.): Akten des 14. Österreichischen Archäologentages am Institut für Archäologie der Universität Graz vom 19. bis 21. April 2012, Wien 2014, p. 21-31.

Alusik, T. – Sovarova, D., 2015: The Accuracy Requirements and Sources for 3D Reconstructions of the Prehistoric Archaeological Sites: The Case of Agios Antonios Chomatas (Crete). In: Gonzalez-Aguilera, D. – Remondino, F. – Boehm, J. – Kersten, T. – Fuse, T. (eds.): 3D-Arch 2015 – 3D Virtual Reconstruction and Visualization of Complex Architectures (XL-5/W4), 25th – 27th February 2015, Avila, Spain. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XL-5/W4 http://www.int-arch-photogramm-remote-sens-spatial-inf-sci.net/XL-5-W4/437/2015/isprsarchives-XL-5-W4-437-2015.pdf

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