About the project

Studies on the physical experience of pre-modern architecture have been made within Classical archaeology and in the archaeology of Ancient Egypt, but are still very rare for the archaeology of the Ancient Near East. So, as part of an international seminar, we conducted research on the reconstruction of the lighting conditions in Ancient Near Eastern sacral architecture.

Our approach was to compare and analyse four of the most common temple types in Ancient Mesopotamia (dating from the 4th to the 1st millennium BCE) in regard to their interior lighting conditions. We used standardised 3D models of the different temple types for the study, which were built on the basis of textual and pictorial sources, material evidence, and ethnographic analogies.

This study served as the basis for a more comprehensive investigation into the lighting conditions in Near Eastern temple architecture, conducted by Sandra Grabowski for her M.A. thesis (German) at the Institute for Near Eastern Archaeology at the Freie Universität Berlin in 2010.

The technical realisation of this project was carried out in collaboration with Martin Steinröder of renderdeck.de, whom we thank for his technical and aesthetical input.


  • Bleeker, C. J. 1973: Some Remarks on the Religious Significance of Light, JANES 5, 23-34.
  • Grabowski, S. 2010: „Lichtdesign“ im Kultraum? Untersuchungen zur Bedeutung von Licht in der mesopotamischen Sakralarchitektur des 1. Jts. v. Chr. und zur Inszenierung des Kultbildes, unpublished.
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  • Margueron, J.-C. 1986: Quelques principles méthodologiques pour une approche analytique de l’architecture de l’Orient antique, Contributi e Materiali di Archeologia Orientale 1.
  • Margueron, J.-C. 1999: Du plan au volume: les bases méthodologiques de la restitution architecturale, in: Kühne, H. et al. (eds), Fluchtpunkt Uruk: Archäologische Einheit aus methodischer Vielfalt. Schriften für Hans Jörg Nissen, Leidorf, 191-200.
  • Winter, I. J. 1994: Radiance as an Aesthetic value in the Art of Mesopotamia (with some Indian Parallels), in: Saraswati, B. N. (ed.), Art, the integral vision. A volume of essay in felicitation of Kapila Vatsyayan, New Delhi, 123-132.