(University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)

Keywords: 3D Virtual Reality Tomb architecture

This study is concerned with the reconstruction of the architecture of a so-called Built Chamber Tomb found in the early Mycenaean cemetery of Ayios Vasilios, mainland Greece (approx. 1700-1420 BC). The Built Chamber Tomb is a rather rare tomb type that signals some of the first architectural elaborations on the mainland and they are testament to a change in funerary practices and beliefs. At the same time pervasive social changes take place with the appearance of social differentiation.
The main topic is the reconstruction, construction, multiple use and destruction of a partially preserved tomb called Tomb 21. The architecture of this particular tomb – especially the roof – is uncertain. This is because this tomb was introduced in a process of experimentation: tomb 21 is both larger and more labour intensive than the surrounding tombs and built for multiple burials. This has major repercussions for the construction of the roof. At least 25 individuals have been buried inside Tomb 21 at different times, which means the tomb was repeatedly opened and closed with every single internment. The roof was clearly not a simple closing mechanism never to be touched again, it was the most dynamic part of the construction.
The goal of this study is to understand both how the tomb collapsed and how it was originally constructed. To do so, we use a number of digital techniques, such as photogrammetry and Virtual Reality. In cooperation with the Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Center of the University of Groningen we create a digital environment in which it is possible to ‘puzzle’ back together the various pieces and create a number of scenarios and reconstructions. This allows us to gain a better understanding of the sequence of actions that have taken place inside the tomb. This project is also used to train students in the possibilities and application of photogrammetry, 3D modeling and VR techniques. The reconstructions themselves will be used for heritage purposes, in order to visualize the process of experimentation with new mortuary practices and to present the process of social differentiation to the public.

Relevance for the conference: We offer an application of a combination of both photogrammetry, 3D modeling and virtual reality for research purposes (understanding sequences of action, innovation, experimentation) that can be used to teach students of the University of Groningen the basics of digital techniques, and the visualisations and immersive character of the application can be used to explain highly sophisticated and intricate scientific discussions to the public.
Relevance for the session: The lead speaker is involved in this project as research assistent to Prof. Sofia Voutsaki, which makes this session a good opportunity to practice with presenting papers at conferences, while at the same time we hope to present a clever and innovative application of digital techniques.
Innovation: The innovation is mostly related to the combined application of photogrammetry, 3D modeling and Virtual Reality techniques in order to explain the complex archaeological situation, an innovation which has up until now been almost entirely absent in the field of Aegean Bronze Age archaeology.
• (In press) Voutsaki, S., Van den Beld, Y. & De Raaff, Y. Labour mobilization and architectural energetics in the North Cemetery at Ayios Vasilios, Laconia, Greece. Papadimitriou, N. 2001, Built Chamber Tombs of Middle and Late Bronze Age Date in Mainland Greece and the Islands, BAR-IS 925.