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 Ancient Greeks: A Free Online Course from Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty

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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Comments (9)
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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.

  • SK says:

    Beau­ti­ful ren­di­tion! Thank you!

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