Explore Ancient Athens 3D, a Digital Reconstruction of the Greek City-State at the Height of Its Influence

Today any of us can go Athens, a city with flavorful food, pleasant weather, a picturesque setting, reasonable prices, and a decent subway system. That is to say, we can enjoy Athens as it is, but what about Athens as it was? As one of the oldest cities in the world, not to mention a developmental center of Western civilization itself, its history holds as much interest as its present reality. Despite all the historical research into ancient Greece, we lack a fully accurate image of what Athens looked and felt like at the height of its power as a city-state. But thanks to the last dozen years of work by photographer and visual effects artist Dimitris Tsalkanis, we can experience Athens as it might have been in the form of Ancient Athens 3D.

“Visitors to the site can browse reconstructions that date back as early as 1200 BCE, the Mycenaean period — or Bronze Age — through Classical Athens, featuring the rebuilds made necessary by the Greco-Persian War, and ages of occupation by Romans and Ottomans,” writes Hyperallergic’s Sarah Rose Sharp.




“Tsalkanis traces the evolution of sites like the Acropolis throughout the ages, the rise and fall of the city walls, the Agora, which served as center of city life, and various temples, libraries, and other fortifications.” All we might see only as monochromatic ruins on our modern Athenian travels stands tall and colorful in Tsalkanis’ three-dimensional digital recreation — as does all that hasn’t survived even as ruins.

Tsalkanis writes of using “artistic license” to reconstruct “monuments that have left few or no traces at all (like the Mycenaean palace of the Acropolis) and other complementary constructions — such as houses — that were incorporated into the render in order to create a more complete image of the monument and its space.” Though he draws on all the historical and archaeological information he can find, much of that information remains sketchy, or at least incomplete. Fortunately, the digital nature of the project, as well as its accessibility to viewers with knowledge of their own to offer, keeps it more or less current with the state of the research. “Tsalkanis stays up to date with his fantasy city,” writes Sharp, “updating reconstructions constantly for better quality of models and better archaeological and historical accuracy.

“You can immerse into this environment,” Tsalkanis tells Sharp, “or you can even 3D print it if you like.” You can also view the individual digital reconstruction videos posted to Ancient Athens 3D’s Youtube channel, which showcase such monuments as the Temple of Ilissos, the Temple of Hephaestus, and the city of Delphi. Just as Tsalkanis’ historical models of Athens will continue to be filled in, expanded, and improved, the technological range of their possible uses will only expand. Tsalkanis himself mentions the smartphone apps that could one day enrich our visits to Athens with augmented reality — allowing us, in other words, to experience Athens as it is and Athens as it might have been, both at the same time.

via Hyperallergic

Related Content:

The History of Ancient Greece in 18 Minutes: A Brisk Primer Narrated by Brian Cox

Introduction to Ancient Greek History: A Free Course from Yale

How Ancient Greek Statues Really Looked: Research Reveals their Bold, Bright Colors and Patterns

Watch Art on Ancient Greek Vases Come to Life with 21st Century Animation

An Animated Reconstruction of Ancient Rome: Take A 30-Minute Stroll Through the City’s Virtually-Recreated Streets

French Illustrator Revives the Byzantine Empire with Magnificently Detailed Drawings of Its Monuments & Buildings: Hagia Sophia, Great Palace & More

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.


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  • Laurence Goldman says:

    Having been to the actual Parthenon, I must say that the edited 3D modeled video is like fast food compared to a Michelin 4 star meal. First, the color renditions are HORRIBLE. There’s no way the artists of some of the greatest achievements of Western culture would use those dead colors that look like cheap poster paints. Second, to visit the actual sites one experiences the effect of the Golden Mean proportion and the scale. Just standing next to a single Parthenon column can be a life changing event.

    The speed of the rendered animation through the building is too fast to enjoy the space. It’s like we’re on an airplane.

    I could go on. I realize the artist loves his ancient roots, but I have to give thumbs down for illustrating the worst of the way too easily accessible digital software.

  • Laurence Goldman says:

    Having been to the actual Parthenon, I must say that the edited 3D modeled video is like fast food compared to a Michelin 4 star meal. First, the color renditions are HORRIBLE. There’s no way the artists of some of the greatest achievements of Western culture would use those dead colors that look like cheap poster paints. Second, to visit the actual sites one experiences the effect of the Golden Mean proportion and the scale. Just standing next to a single Parthenon column can be a life changing event.

    The speed of the rendered animation through the building is too fast to enjoy the space. It’s like we’re on an airplane.

  • Everton Luís Costa says:

    Very Very good!! Congratulatios!!

  • J says:

    I love it. True and proper assessment my friend!

  • George Makedon says:

    Indeed Sir . I am Greek and I felt the same . Quite poor attempt . Technology can’t replicate everything .

  • George Makedon says:

    Indeed Sir . I am Greek and I felt the same . Quite poor attempt . Technology can’t replicate everything .

  • Jimmy militsis says:

    The acient greeks had technology and know its in the wrong hands.but well done to the person who put the 3d image together.one day the true greeks will rise.dont give up greece

    May the gods and jesus return one day

  • Katy McDougal says:

    On holidays they show off their artistic style to other people who have never seen it even though they all had similar styles.
    Ancient Greek festivals were a major part of religious events that recurred annually, every two years, or every four years.
    Every holiday or festival there was always one thing they had to do and that was to worship and celebrate or do whatever it took to keep a strong and steady relationship between the mortals and the gods and goddesses.
    The festivals of Athens are the best known,and they were plentiful. Athens set aside at least 60 days a year for annual festivals.
    The Spartans would end up missing a war because when it came to holidays, festivals, or anything like that they take the time and celebrate.
    Culture played a huge part in Ancient Greece. They believed that if they celebrated and worshiped the gods and goddesses that they would bless them for safe trips or good crops.
    Each city state had their own god or goddess to represent them, but they all worshiped all of them, the main gods are, Zeus god of the sky, hades god of death or underground, and Poseidon god of water/ocean.
    The Greeks had this thing they called were all the gods and goddesses they worshiped stayed, it was called Olympus.
    The food they eat was also a part of their traditions, sometimes they put some of their food into a fire to send it to the gods and goddesses they worship.
    Some of the time clothing was a part of it as well for they wore what they thought the gods and goddesses would approve of.
    Over all everything in here is a part of their traditions, art, clothing, food, music, the way they celebrate etc.

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