REBUILDING THE PALACE OF MINOS AT KNOSSOS
There is no suggestion that the Evans restorations should be removed, but it can be difficult for archaeologists and visitors alike to disentangle the 20th-century reconstitutions from the 2nd millennium BCE building. One way to do this is using digital technology.
For our Labyrinth exhibition, the Oxford School of Archaeology created a 3D model of the Palace of Minos. This was created using a computer program called ArcGIS Pro.
It's based on the most recent plan of the palace produced by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Heraklion. Present wall heights were compared with the Ashmolean’s excavation archive in order to try to restore the palace to its pre-reconstruction state.
This process is ongoing and the 3D model will continue to be refined using drawings, photographs and notebooks from the Sir Arthur Evans Archive. The 3D model is a representation of the palace as excavated by Evans.
It isn't a reconstruction of the palace as it would have looked in use at any moment in time, because the building was itself remodelled several times over the course of its 600-year lifespan.
Above: Digitised version of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Heraklion’s plan of the palace created by the Oxford University School of Archaeology (courtesy of Heraklion Ephorate of Antiquities and John Pouncett)
The 3D model was printed for display in the exhibition to show visitors the excavated remains. The process of creating and printing the model in itself highlighted the close links between the excavation and restoration of the palace and the difficulties of documenting Evans’s exploration of the site.
The next phase of the project, which will continue after the exhibition, is to integrate the Sir Arthur Evans Archive into the model. Our hope is that visitors will be able to explore Evans’s discoveries in each room with the click of a mouse.
The Ephorate too has recently released two apps for visitors to explore the Palace.
One provides a tour of the palace.
The other allows visitors to experience the palace in Augmented Reality as it might have looked in the Bronze Age using AR (Augmented Reality). These initiatives show the opportunities that digitisation provides for exploring and reimagining the Palace of Minos.
We are grateful to the Heraklion Ephorate of Antiquities for their collaboration on the 3D model of the palace of Minos.
The 3D model was created by John Pouncett and Karl Smith with the aid of a grant from the Al Thani Collection Foundation. The print was funded by the Patrons of the Ashmolean Museum.