Marc Grellert1 / Jochen Schmid2
(1Technische Universität Darmstadt, Department Information and Communication Technology in Architecture / 2Vorderasiatisches Museum Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Germany)
In November 1899, spectacular archaeological finds were made near the current Syrian-Turkish border. During excavations at Tell Halaf, Max von Oppenheim discovered monumental sculptures and pictorial reliefs. They are part of an antique Aramaic palace, dating to the 10th or 9th century BC, belonging to the city-state of Guzana. An Assyrian palace was also discovered during subsequent excavations.
These were the beginnings of an excavation history, spanning over a century, to the present day. Military conflicts, including World War I and II and the current civil war in Syria have caused repeated set backs in research activities. Despite these problems, a virtual reconstruction created in 2014 allows valuable insights into how the fantastic combination of architecture and art work might have looked like, as well as illustrating the dimensions of this antique town. The most recent excavations at the site in 2010 uncovered the probably last results for some time to come.
This means, however, that the time can now be used to systematically investigate already existing data, and to verify hypotheses. The starting point for re-considering the architecture is the reconstruction attempts (first half of 20th century) by Oppenheim’s first excavation architect and long-standing employee Felix Langenegger. Today, digital equipment has become a reliable and indispensible research tool. The digitalization of Lengeneggers drawings has exposed initial inconsistencies. The present reconstruction is a continuation of earlier attempts, complemented by the most recent archaeological findings. The reconstruction was created as part of an exhibition in the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn. In the coming years, it will be used as a starting point for further analyses, and to assemble the isolated but diverse pieces of knowledge to create one or several possible reconstructions.
Tell Halaf is also an example of an altogether different fusion of digital knowledge. The great sculptures, which have been blasted into innumerable pieces during an air raid in World War II, have been meticulously re-assembled and scanned in a 10-year research project of the ‘Vorderasiatisches Museum’. Missing pieces were supplemented and fractures were three dimensionally retouched. Other items of furniture have been reconstructed using archaeological finds. This is how the three dimensional virtual model of features and finds was assembled, portraying a moment in time of the current state of research regarding Tell Halaf.