Formal three-dimensional computational analyses of archaeological spaces

Papadopoulos, Constantinos and Earl, Graeme (2012) Formal three-dimensional computational analyses of archaeological spaces In Spatial Analysis in Past Built Spaces. TOPOI..


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It is common practice within interpretations of archaeologically attested environments to develop spatially-contingent conclusions. Thus, in discussing motion within space one might consider a series of rooms acting to direct movement, to focus attention, and to provide sensations of enclosure and control. Such interpretations commonly derive from experience of the surviving spaces, examination of correlating perhaps better preserved environments, and consultation of plans and elevations. The computer graphic simulation has built on the potential of conventional painted and drawn reconstructions to provide access to hypothesised three-dimensional environments. These in turn stimulate critique and an emotional or purely functional engagement with visualised spaces (Earl et al in press; Beale et al 2010).

More recent developments in computational practice have rendered easily accessible tools that can formalise the interaction with these simulations. Thus, architectural design software enables calculation of exact movements and transformations of natural light around built spaces and landscapes and the impact of varying forms of artificial illumination. Alongside this formal analyses of visibility enable the practicalities of the illumination of a given space to be compared to the potentials afforded by movement around it for viewing given locations. Together these formal methods provide a counterpart to less formalised modes of visual interpretation.

In this paper we concentrate on the potentials of formal lighting analysis to identify the illumination that has an impact on the perception of a given environment. We highlight the importance of virtual constructions in archaeological research, especially concerning the estimation of lighting values in ancient structures and the importance of natural and flame light in domestic, religious and working spaces. We then consider means to explore the visibility of the space as a whole, and in the context of the available light and of computer graphic visual simulations of the environment as perceived. All the examples presented in this paper come from Minoan Crete with attention focussed not on the palatial structures that characterise many studies in the area, but rather on three different types of spaces: houses, workrooms and tombs, which provide valuable information about private life, working conditions and religion, accordingly. We leave for a later publication considerations of what the subsequent perception of digital objects within these simulated environments might mean in archaeological terms.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Venue - Dates: Spatial Analysis in Built Spaces: an Interdisciplinary and International Workshop, Germany, 2010-04-01 - 2010-04-02
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Organisations: Archaeology
ePrint ID: 205629
Date :
Date Event
2012Accepted/In Press
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2011 13:46
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 01:05
Further Information:Google Scholar

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