The University of Southampton’s archaeological visualisation team, led by Professor Stephanie Moser, has been conducting research at the internationally-renowned site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey, since 2009. This project is the first of its kind to examine the long-term visual corpus of an archaeological excavation and, based on this analysis, to develop new visuals for the site’s key audiences. A formal partnership has been established between the University of Southampton and Stanford University, under the direction of Professor Ian Hodder, who has been excavating at Çatalhöyük since 1991.
A key component of the project entails Professor Moser’s historical analysis of almost a half century of archaeological imagery generated at Çatalhöyük. Of particular interest is the role that imagery has played in Çatalhöyük’s iconic status within, and beyond, the archaeological community. This work is complemented by the redesign of Çatalhöyük’s Visitors’ Centre, led by Dr Sara Perry, whose area of specialisation involves heritage practice, display, and the visual economies of archaeological sites and institutions.
The visualisation team is also experimenting with new visualisation strategies directed at local, international, academic and non-academic audiences. These visualisations include a rethinking of traditional 2-D archaeological presentations (i.e. maps, diagrams, isometric illustrations, etc.) as well as 3-D and moving graphics. Digital reconstructions of the site have been initiated by Dr Graeme Earl of the University’s Archaeological Computing Research Group in collaboration with experts from the University of Southampton and other institutions. The Southampton team is also remodelling Çatalhöyük’s on-site signage as a means of rethinking traditional heritage display. As well, an online teaching resource, the Çatalhöyük Visual Assemblage, has been created to help students learn about the site and its graphic production.
More information about Çatalhöyük—including its ancient history, its present excavations, and related academic projects—can be found on the Çatalhöyük Project website.
One of the buildings uncovered during excavations at Çatalhöyük in the 1960s was a highly decorated structure, nicknamed “Shrine of the Hunters”. In total it had four separate painted murals, spread across the entirety of the room, which made it one of the most ornate areas found to date at the site. For over forty years a true representation for this series of paintings had not been undertaken. Over the summer of 2010, MSc Student Grant Cox, in conjunction with the Archaeological Computing Research Group at Southampton, began to develop reconstructions to place the artwork into a virtual context. The resulting 3D model allows alternative interpretations to be developed and the archaeological space to be explored and analysed in new ways.
- Stephanie Moser
- Sara Perry, University of York
- Graeme Earl
- Ian Kirkpatrick, www.iankirkpatrick.ca
- Grant Cox