Michaela REINFELD | Bernhard FRITSCH
(DAI, TOPOI, HU Berlin, Berlin, Germany)

Keywords: villa maritima, structure from motion, open access, data publishing

The appearance and the magnificent design of Roman sea villas, the villae maritimae, is at least partly known to us on the basis of the Roman wall painting. However, whether the detailed paintings represent a reflection of reality or are attributable solely to the imagination of the artist, is not clear beyond doubt. Underwater archaeological research on the Roman villa on the Cape of Sorrento resulted in clear evidence of a luxuriously designed villa with two representative harbors, which served both the supply of the villa and the reception of high dignitaries. For the first time, the villa was documented photographically by a drone and a three-dimensional model of the complex was created. Using structure from motion, the two harbor complexes of the villa were also documented and considered in the interpretation for the first time. The resulting three-dimensional model of the entire complex provides information about the architectural design of the villa as well as the effort that was spent on the construction. The data allow a clear interpretation of the two harbor basins. However, some challenges had to be overcome in linking the 3d data generated in the air, on land and under water.
All data generated during the excavation campaigns (maps, 3D models, etc.) are available in an online repository at Edition Topoi (www.edition-topoi.org) according to the principles of open access. Thus, the research data on the villa are published, secured in the long term and citable. In addition, the open structure of the repository allows other researchers to freely use the data and metadata. Furthermore, the data can be easily integrated into other software packages for further analysis via an interface.

Relevance for the conference: The case study describes the documentation and presentation of a cultural heritage that is only visible to a limited group of people because of its difficult accessibility.
Relevance for the session: The paper describes a complete workflow, from the archaeological documentation above and under water, to the interpretation of the data, its digital publication and long-term backup.
Innovation: Based on the Villa on the Cape of Sorrento, the first attempt was made to create an overall model of a Roman villa, which includes both the terrestrial and underwater structures.

  • W. Filser – B. Fritsch – W. Kennedy – C. Klose – R. Perella, Surrounded by the sea: re-investigating the villa maritima del Capo di Sorrento. Interim report, Journal of Roman Archaeology 30, 2017, 64-95.
  • Lafon, X., Villa Maritima. Recherches sur les villas littorals de l’Italie romaine, École française de Rome (Rome 2001).