Formal and informal analysis of rendered space: the Basilica Portuense

Graeme Earl, Vito Porcelli, Costas Papadopoulos, Gareth Beale, Matthew Harrison, Hembo Pagi, Simon Keay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Digital archaeological analyses of space have proceeded traditionally from two distinct perspectives. First, there has been a phenomenological appraisal of computer-graphic-modeled geometry and, second, a formal analysis of the surviving spaces and extrapolations from them. The former approach encompasses work on the visualization of raw geometric data captured through techniques such as laser scanning and photogrammetry. In addition, it has critiqued the processes and interfaces within which extrapolations from these data take place-namely, the construction of increasingly sophisticated graphical simulations in software such as 3ds Max, Maya, and Vue Infinite. Finally, it draws on the ability of such software and interactive visualization tools to stimulate new interpretations through interaction with the visualized geometry. This virtual phenomenology in turn has been seen to be significantly enhanced by an emphasis on physical realism (Chalmers, 2002), but it has not been without its critics (Lock, 2003). The use of physically realistic techniques facilitates the second, formal analytical approach by extending methodologies primarily stimulated by the architectural community to enable comparisons between built architecture (and their resulting spatial interactions), to evaluate their robusticity through stochastic methods, and to predict and analyze physical factors such as lighting in architectural designs. However, the novel research in physical (or “predictive”) rendering is primarily constrained to the domain of computer graphics (Wilkie et al., 2009) and remains to be explored in depth in archaeological research. This chapter begins to explore their potential.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Approaches to Archaeological Spaces
EditorsAndrew Bevan, Mark Lake
PublisherRoutledge/Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages42
ISBN (Print)9781611323467
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • digital archaeology
  • space
  • roman archaeology
  • basilica
  • Portus
  • 3D
  • 3D Visualisation
  • light
  • lighting analysis
  • 3D reconstruction

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