Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2010

12 April 2011

Death management & Virtual Pursuits: A Virtual Reconstruction of the Minoan Cemetery at Phourni, Archanes

Constantinos Papadopoulos

Death management & Virtual Pursuits: A Virtual Reconstruction of the Minoan Cemetery at Phourni, Archanes

City: Oxford

Year: 2010

Publisher: Archaeopress

Series: BAR 2082

Description: Paperback, xx+156 p., colour & b/w ill., maps, plans, drawings, 1 CD, 29,7x21 cm

Examining the Use of Tholos Tomb C and Burial Building 19 and the Role of Illumination, in Relation to Mortuary Practices and the Perception of Life and Death by the Living.


In the striking event of death, each community produces rituals, not explicitly or exclusively of a funerary nature. This is done in order to maintain both its stability and integrity, while incorporating the living into a fixed system of culturally defined roles and statuses.

The living had an active role in manipulating dead bodies, either for the primary burial or secondary treatment. This means that they entered the tombs or antechambers in order to prepare the deceased for inhumation, and practiced various ceremonies in commemoration of their ancestors, in accord with their attitude towards death. In addition, they were preparing the tombs for forthcoming burials by removing decomposed bodies, or selected parts of them, and lighting fires for small or large scale fumigations.

People were entering in the tombs to practice rituals related to funerary ceremonies, or for practical purposes, however the noisome environment of a poorly ventilated structure full of corpses may suggest that only a small amount of people could simultaneously enter and remain in it. Natural light, or flame light, should have been a key factor by illuminating the interior, and mirroring eschatological beliefs and world views.

Computer based research provides scientists with an alternative reading of the dataset from the Minoan cemetery at Phourni, Archanes. This analysis attempts to evaluate tombs’ architecture, use, visual impact, and their capacity during different time periods, as well as the contribution of light to determine not only practical purposes, but philosophical and religious beliefs as well.


List of figures [vii]

List of tables [xviii]

Introduction [1]

1. Virtual reconstructions as a means of research, pedagogy and dissemination of archaeological knowledge – limitations & problems: Some theoretical considerations [3]

2. The study area – The cemetery at Phourni, Archanes. Archaeological evidence, burial cult & correlates [5]

2a. Overview [5]
2b. History of investigation [5]
2c. Archaeological evidence [5]
2d. Tholos Tomb C and its structural features [5]
2e. Burial Building 19 and its structural features [6]
2f. Aspects of the burial cult [6]
2g. Parallels [7]
2h. Illustrations [8]

3. Reconstructing the cemetery [13]

3a. Decision making process [13]
3b. Architecture [13]
3c. Technical issues [14]
3d. Reconstructing alternatives [14]
3e. Illustrations [15]

4.  Reconstructing Tholos Tomb C and its finds [17]

4a. Architecture [17]
4b. Finds [17]
4c. Reconstructing alternatives [18]
4d. Technical issues [18]
4e. Illustrations [19]

5. Reconstructing Burial Building 19 and its finds [32]

5a. Architecture [32]
5b. Finds [32]
5c. Reconstructing alternatives [33]
5d. Technical issues [34]
5e. Illustrations [34]

6. Incorporating human models into the burial structures [49]

6a. Human models in virtual reconstructions [49]
6b. Decision making process & archaeological evidence [49]
6c. Creating human models [49]
6d. Illustrations [50]

7. Natural & flame lighting in Phourni [51]

7a. The importance of light [51]
7b. Lighting devices and fuels [51]
7c. Natural light and orientation of the burial structures [51]
7d. Natural factors affecting the illumination [51]
7e. Global illumination & mental ray renderer – Aiming accuracy [52]
7f. Previous work on the illumination of archaeological scenes [52]
7g. Lighting scenarios [53]
7h. Daylight [53]
7i. Nightlight [53]
7j. Sources of flame light and their physical properties [54]
7k. Accurate flame illumination [54]
7l. Technical issues [55]
7m. Tables [56]
7n. Illustrations [58]

8. Presenting & interpreting the results [62]

8a. Tholos Tomb C [62]
8b. Burial Building 19 [107]
8c. Destruction of Tholos Tomb C and Burial Building 19 (MMIIB/MMIIIA) [142]

Conclusion [143]

Appendix 1: Chronological table [145]
Appendix 2: The first four phases of the cemetery – An overview [146]
Appendix 3: Structures at Phourni – Chronology & approximate height [147]
Appendix 4: Modelling the terrain [148]
Appendix 5: Definitions [149]
Appendix 6: Archaeological sources & 3d models [150]

References [152]


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