Blog

Project Update: The Late Uruk Period Animation

One of our longer animation for the exhibition “Uruk – 5000 years megacity” was the one explaining the Late Uruk Period. We updated our project page of the Late Uruk Period and finally added the animation for you to watch. You’ll find it at the top here or at the bottom of the project page. Enjoy!

Link to the updated project page

What is reconstruction all about? – Part 3/3

One of our specialities and passions is the reconstruction and visualisation of ancient architecture. Virtual 3D-models make it possible to communicate a lot of information at a single glance. In this multi-part article I want to discuss the roots (Part 1), benefits (Part 2) and problems (Part 3) of archaeological reconstructions.

Part 3: The problems

So, after talking about the roots of reconstructions and what they are used and beneficial for, we also need to discuss some other points. As I mentioned before, reconstructions are never – and will never be – 100% correct. This is the nature of things, otherwise a reconstruction would not be necessary. Unfortunately, many people see reconstructions in museums or TV and automatically think: this is the way it was! Great!

Ask someone, that has no background in cultural sciences, to draw a human from the stone-age. Most of them will paint a picture of a club-swinging cave-man, probably with a kind of fur trousers. This image, depicted in countless children books, has had a major impact.¹ It is actually quiet difficult to get that picture out of our heads. So how do we prevent such a mistake with the reconstructions we develop?

One important thing we have to do, is to communicate uncertainty. If a reconstruction is presented, whether in a museum, a publication or on TV, one has to make it absolutely clear, that this reconstruction is just a proposal. You can do this in different ways. “But”, you will ask, “isn’t it bad if I present something I don’t know?” Of course, archaeologists tend to be careful with uncertain assumptions. This is understandable, due to the risk to get something wrong. But to visualize archaeological results in one (or more) image is in fact nothing else than writing about it in a row of monographs. It is simply another way of presenting. A combination of explaining text and graphics is the best way to go or as Golvin puts it: “It is better to draw what is difficult to describe with words, and to write what cannot be rendered with visual signs.”²

So, we have to be careful in presenting reconstructions. What else? Another problem of reconstructions are, that scientific knowledge changes over time and a previous model can become out-dated. This is especially the case with physical reconstructions, that cannot be altered so easily as virtual reconstructions. It is therefore necessary to update reconstructed models over time. This of course takes effort, but one has not to decline older models necessarily. The comparison of older reconstructions with newer ones can play an important role for research historical questions, like the example of the ziqqurrat of Ashur by Walter Andrae has shown.³

These were only two examples of constantly occurring problems, but in my opinion (of course!), do they not out-weight the benefits. Reconstructions are a great way of presenting scientific data to a professional as well as a broader audience. I really hope, that my three-part article was worth the effort and enjoyed.

[1] Moser, S./Gamble, C. 1997: Revolutionary Images. The iconic vocabulary for representing human antiquity, in: Molyneaux, B.L. (Eds.), Cultural Life of Images. Visual Representation in Archaeology, Oxfordshire, 184-212.

[2] Golvin, J.-C. 2012: Drawing Reconstruction Images of Ancient Sites, in: Green, J./Teeter, E./Larson, J.A. (Eds.), Picturing the Past. Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East, Oriental Institute Museum Publication 34, Chicago, 82.

[3] Micale, M.G. 2008: The course of the images. Remarks on the architectural Reconstructions in the 19th and 20th centuries: The case of the Ziqqurrat, in: Córdoba, J.M. et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (Madrid, April 3-8 2006), Madrid, 571-585.

New project online: Building H of Habuba Kabira

Not so long ago, we finished a small project that visualised a building in Habuba Kabira, dated into the Uruk Period. Finished is probably not the correct term, as this is only a preliminary result. The reconstruction of this building is based on the preliminary publications and the final publication is still not available. Nevertheless, we see this as an experiment: What will be the difference between a reconstruction based on preliminary results and a revised version based on the final publication?

As soon as the final publication will be available, we will take a look and propose a new reconstruction. The differences and similarities will then be discussed! We are looking forward to it. You can already have a look at the preliminary results on our website.

Presentation: The influence of early archaeological reconstructions to Near Eastern Archaeology

Between the 9th and 13th of June 2014 the 9th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE) is held in Basel, Switzerland. There is a section called “Dealing with the Past” where I will present a talk about the influence of early archaeological reconstructions to Near Eastern Archaeology. You can find the program and abstracts on the official website.

If you are following us and going to the ICAANE this year, I would be glad if you come by and say hello.

Save the Latmos mountains

This post is about the marvellous rock paintings of the Latmos Mountains, the range in western Turkey today known as Beşparmak. These prehistoric paintings (6th-5th mill. BCE) have the human being as part of a society as the main subject and are unique. Harald Hauptmann described the paintings as follows:

The singular pictorial language of Latmic rock art represents a new world of religious symbols of a society that had become settled and lived increasingly from farming and stock-breeding. This new form of life which spread from the mountainous periphery of the Fertile Crescent, the southern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia through Central Anatolia to the West in the Aegean to Europe, found its special expression in the Latmic rock pictures quite unlike anywhere else in Anatolia.

Unfortunately, the rock paintings are threatened with destruction by the constant expansion of stone quarries in this area. This exploitation has increased dramatically in recent times, so that now not only parts of the wonderful pine forests and fascinating rocky landscape have been damaged, but also sites of rock paintings are endangered too.

You can help to make the Turkish government aware of the situation. There is a petition at Change.org where you can sign and help with the rescue of the Latmos Mountains. We totally support this matter as the Latmic rock paintings are endangered and need to be protected. Furthermore, we know the people behind the petition and can attest there seriousness and dedication. If you are interested, you can learn everything about the rock paintings on the official website, before you sign the petition.

Official website: http://latmos-felsbilder.de/
Change.org petition: https://www.change.org/

New project online: Architectural Layer 8 of Uruk

Recently, we finished a project that consists of three Middle-hall-type buildings, that were connected to each other and varying in size. Architectural Layer 8 of “Untersuchungsareal” 3 in Uruk revealed only these three buildings and some adjacent rooms. With some calculations, we reconstructed the height of the buildings and discovered, that the central building G was the highest. Flanked by the buildings F and H, that had more or less the same height, a central courtyard was constructed.

If you want to read more and check out some additional renderings, feel free to visit our Website.

Learn about Archaeology

One of our older projects, the illustration that explains an archaeological trench (see above), has found another use. Last Friday, Birge Tezner from audio Konzept was using our illustration in a reading for children, that was held in the book store BuchSegler in Berlin. She was promoting her new audio book “Fred im Reich der Nofretete“.

She told us, that the children were most interested and started to search for finds on the illustration, even after the reading had started. We are happy that we could help out and if you are interested in a very well done audio book (German), check out the websites above. Kindly, Birge provided us with some pictures of the reading.

Photo: © Martin König

Photo: © Rupert Schellenberger

Mari: Visualisation of an excavation trench

We have been working on this project for a while now and finished it just recently.  Prof. Butterlin from the University of Paris commissioned us to recreate an excavation trench of Mari in 3D.  The site Tell Hariri, situated in modern Syria, is unreachable at the moment and the excavation team needed a tool to work with the stratigraphy of the most important trench V.1.

We worked closely with Wael Abu-Azizeh, the leading excavator of that trench, to rebuild the stratigraphy and architectural remains in the computer. The results were final renderings and… a Google SketchUp model! You can read everything about the project here.

Newer Posts
Older Posts