3D Digital Technologies to Record Excavation Data: The Case of the Catacombs of St. Lucy (Siracusa, Sicily)

Davide Tanasi
University of South Florida, dtanasi@usf.edu
Ilenia Gradante
Römische Institut der Görres-Gesellschaft
Mariarita Sgarlata Università di Catania
Between 2013 and 2015, Arcadia University in partnership with the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology and the University of Catania undertook new excavation campaigns in the Catacombs of St. Lucy at Siracusa. The research focuses on some very problematic parts of Region C of the complex, including Oratory C, the so-called Pagan Shrine and Crypt VI. These areas document most effectively the long life of this Christian hypogeum, which incorporated previous structures and artefacts related to the Greek period and continued to be used until the Middle Ages. During the excavation an array of 3D digital techniques (3D scanning, 3d Modelling, Image-based 3D modelling) was used for the daily recording of the archaeological units, but also to create high-resolution virtual replicas of certain districts of the catacombs. Furthermore, the same techniques were applied to support the study of certain classes of materials, such as frescoes and marble architectural elements that could otherwise only be studied in the dark environment of the catacombs, making the visual analysis of such complex artifacts difficult and sometimes misleading, not to mention that the frequent use of strong sources of light for study can also endanger them. The virtual archaeology research undertaken at the Catacombs of St. Lucy represents the first systematic application of 3D digital technologies to the study of such a special archaeological context in Sicily.
Key words:
Christian catacombs, Sicily, virtual archaeology, 3D scanning, 3D modelling, Image-based 3D modelling, Open source
Source: article

Byzantium and the West: Jewelry in the First Millennium

November 2 to 30, 2012



Les Enluminures
23 East 73rd Street, 7th Floor, Penthouse
New York, NY 10021
tel +1 212 717 7273

This full-color catalog explores the interrelationships between the East and West during the first millennium. This was the first time that the Roman Empire was gradually replaced by barbarian invaders, who spread through Europe and created new styles of jewelry; it was also when the capital shifted eastward to the newly founded city of Constantinople.

Among the themes treated are the transition from Late Roman types to Byzantine ones, including the design of new shapes; an interest in exotic stones and changes in fashion; the function of rings (marriage, personal monograms, official status and religious iconography); and the Western Gothic imitation and development of Byzantine prototypes.

Examples from the early third and fourth centuries in Rome feature an elaborate ‘key’ ring, pierced with the words utere felix (use with luck) and an ornate yet sophisticated band set entirely with emeralds. There is a late fifth-century Byzantine Parure that includes a pendant cross and related earrings. From the same era, an Ostogothic group is comprised of polyhedral earrings, a pendant cross and a ring, all with beautiful garnet inlay.

Jeffrey Spier is a university associate and adjunct professor at the University of Arizona. He has published extensively on Greek and Roman gems and jewelry and on early Christian and Byzantine art. His publications include: Treasures of the Ferrell Collection (2010); Picturing the Bible. The Earliest Christian Art (2007); Late Antiquity and Early Christian Gems (2007); and Ancient Gems and Finger Rings: Catalogue of the Collections. The J. Paul Getty Museum (1993).

The Preface is by Sandra Hindman, a medievalist and owner of Les Enluminures (Paris, Chicago and New York).


Catalogue 2012_byzantine


Studies on Hellenism, Christianity and the Umayyads

Studies on Hellenism, Christianity and the Umayyad, by Garth Fowden and Elizabeth Key Fowden

From the stony desolation of Jordan’s desert, it is but a step through a doorway into the bath house of the Qusayr ‘Amra hunting lodge. Inside, multicolored frescoes depict scenes from courtly life and the hunt, along with musicians, dancing girls, and naked bathing women. The traveler is transported to the luxurious and erotic world of a mid-eighth-century Muslim Arab prince. For scholars, though, Qusayr ‘Amra, probably painted in the 730s or 740s, has proved a mirage, its concreteness dissolved by doubts about date, patron, and meaning. This is the first book-length contextualization of the mysterious monument through a compelling analysis of its iconography and of the literary sources for the Umayyad period. It illuminates not only the way of life of the early Muslim elite but also the long afterglow of late antique Syria.

Garth Fowden and Elizabeth Key Fowden, Studies on Hellenism, Christianity and the Umayyads (Μελετήματα 34)

Revue des études byzantines 2006









Churches in Medieval Hungary

Cathedrals and parish churches surviving from the Middle Ages are among the greatest achievements of architecture attracting a lot of tourists today, but not many visitors are aware of their origin, rank, and function. When studying about English arts foreign students need to be aware of fundamental ecclesiastical concepts, have a thorough knowledge of the historical background and art terminology not only in connection with England, but, in my experience, with their native country as well. Though the structure of the Church was basically similar in the two countries, there were fundamental differences in the size and number of (arch)dioceses and parishes. In this paper I will concentrate mainly on the territorial formation of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in the eleventh century, which was a decisive period in both England and Hungary, and will conclude with a short description of the present situation.
2 – The Early Period of Lawmaking in Medieval Hungary


3 – THE FOUNDATION OF THE ARCHBISHOPRIC OF. KALOCSA: THE BYZANTINE ORIGIN OF THE. SECOND ARCHDIOCESE IN HUNGARY. Istvan Baanl. http://byzantinohungarica.hu/sites/default/files/Ba%C3%A1n%20Istv%C3%A1n/baan_foundation_kalocsa.pdf

4 – Between Rome and Constantinople: The Religious Structure of Medieval Hungary (13th-14th Centuries) http://dspace.bcucluj.ro/jspui/bitstream/123456789/48114/1/Pop%2BIoan%2BAurel-Between%2BRome%2Band%2BConstantinople-1998.pdf




Byzantine Church in Medieval Hungary

1 – The Role of the Byzantine Church in Medieval Hungary
Gyula Moravcsik
The American Slavic and East European Review
Vol. 6, No. 3/4 (Dec., 1947), pp. 134-151
ACCORDING TO the evidence found in historical records, the first influences of the Byzantine Christian mission had reached the Magyars prior to the conquest of present Hungary while they were still on the shores of the Black Sea. As I have proved in detail in an earlier treatise, we must surmise that, when they took possession of their present land, the Magyar people had brought with them a knowledge of Christianity.
2 – Churches since the Establishment of the Hungarian Kingdom up to Modern Times
The first Hungarian Christian ruler, King Stephen I (997–1038) issued several charters that have survived to this day. One of them is the charter issued on behalf of the nuns from the Monastery of the Holy Theotokos in Veszprémvölgy. The charter was written in the Greek language, and has been the subject of many studies. The original has not been preserved; what remains is a copy from the time of King Coloman, dated to 1109. The charter has not been published in a critical edition in any language other than Hungarian and even though it has been examined by numerous Hungarian scholars, many questions remain open. The aim of the author is to provide a critical edition and an English translation of the charter, but also to clarify some remaining doubts about the charter and its contents. Furthermore, some comparisons will be made with the Byzantine charters issued at the beginning of the 11th and during the 12th century.

A Concise History of the Armenian People

Source: Book: A History of the Armenian People_Ancient times to AD 1500

1492063759«The early edition of the much praised A History of the Armenian People in 2 volumes was the first comprehensive and objective history of the Armenians from ancient times to the early 1990s in English. It was adopted as a required text and used as a basis for lectures by instructors of Armenian history. Ten thousand copies later, the dwindling supplies, continuing demand, as well as the current political importance of the region have necessitated a revised and updated edition. The book examines the history of the Armenians in relation to that of the rest of the world. Its main purpose is to familiarize Armenians and non-Armenians with a people and culture that is absent from most history courses and texts.
The first part of the study discusses the origins of the Armenians, the Urartian Kingdom, Armenia and the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman, Sasanid and Byzantine periods. It also examines Christinaity in Armenia and the development of an alphabet and literature. The work then continues with the history of Armenia during the Arab, Turkish and Mongol periods. A separate chapter deals with the history of Cilician Armenia and the Crusades». Source

The Church’s involvement in the economic life of Early Christian Greek towns


Zisimou-Tryfonidi, Eirini (2015)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.


Inscription-ICG-746_editiontopoiThis thesis wishes to draw attention to the economic, social and political implications of the rise and establishment of the institutional Church in Early Christian Greece, particularly by exploring the pilgrimage, philanthropic and industrial function of the churches’ annexes. The diverse functions of churches annexes, besides reflecting a social dimension, they also reflect economic and political realities that require the development of an interdisciplinary approach, based on civil and ecclesiastical legislation, archaeology, epigraphy, history and theology, in order to explore the extent and the effects of the institutional Church’s activity in Greece. Interpreting Christian archaeology in key excavated sites of Greece by interweaving literary and material evidence both of ecclesiastical and secular origin, will help not only to ascertain how churches stood in relation to adjoining buildings combining religious and economic purposes, but also to restore to the most possible extent the Early Christian Greek urban and rural topographies.



The Role and Status of the Catholic Church in the Church-State Relationship Within the Roman Empire from A.D. 306 to 814

Jean Carlos Zukowski, Andrews University

Source: http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/dissertations/174/



This study analyzes and compares information from historical documents on the role and status of the church in the development of church-state relationships within the Roman Empire from A.D. 306 to 814 (from Constantine’s ascendancy to the throne, to Charlemagne’s death).

After the introductory chapter, chapter 2 analyzes church-state relationships at the time of Constantine. The chapter presents the Christian and Roman ways of understanding religion before Constantine, the changes that occurred because of Constantine’s conversion to Catholicism, and his religious policies.

Chapter 3 analyzes the church-state relationships that existed form the time of Constantine’s sons to the reign of Justinian. During this time, Catholicism replaced paganism and the Roman senate in the religious and political life of the empire. Also, it examines the development of the papacy and Justinian’s religious policies.

Chapter 4 analyzes the church-state relationship during the reign of Clovis. It analyzes the significance of Clovis’s conversion to Catholicism and to the political life of Gaul and the empire, as well as his model of church-state relations.

Chapter 5 analyzes the church-state relationship from Pope Gregory the great to the time of Charlemagne. It discusses Charlemagne’s religious policies and the importance of the Catholic Church and the papacy to the Frankish empire and the legitimacy of the Carolingian dynasty. It presents the papacy’s struggle for political power and its independence from the eastern empire after its alliance with the Frankish kings.

Chapter 6 analyzes and compares the church-state relationships that existed during the reigns of the four political leaders covered in the previous chapters- Constantine, Justinian, Clovis, and Charlemagne. The chapter suggests that the church-state model adopted by Justinian was similar to that of Constantine and the one adopted by Charlemagne was similar to that of Clovis.


This study proposes that just as Constantine’s conversion and Charlemagne’s coronation are considered turning points in history, Clovis’s conversion and the reigns of Justinian and Vigilius can be considered tipping points for the beginning of the new European model of church-state relations and the fight for political supremacy by the papacy.

Subject Area

Church and state–Catholic Church–History, Church and state–History, Church and state–Rome–History, Catholic Church–History, Church history–Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600


The Black Death, Plague, and Mass Mortality

Andree Beauchamp
University of Manitoba
black-death-mass-graves1Abstract: Cultural funerary practices typically entail a set of common rituals, ceremonies, and treatments that are common to the cultural group. These practices are adhered to unless there is a significant culture change or the community experiences a catastrophe such as war, natural disaster, or epidemic. When such periods of disaster spread over a large territory and are experienced for a long period of time, such as during the epidemic of Black Death in Europe during the Middle Ages, it could be argued that the mass burials become a funerary practice in itself. There is value in identifying these catastrophic samples. By identifying the pattern of these mass burials researchers can identify such catastrophic examples with greater ease and place this distinct funerary situation within the larger context of funerary practices. The goal of this research is to distinguish the burial practices employed in Europe during the epidemic of Black Death from standard funerary practices at that time period and define the shift in burial practice as a funerary practice in itself. The pattern of mass burial observed during the Black Death epidemic will then be compared to other instances of mass burial to determine whether different causes for mass death and burial can be distinguished in the funerary practice.

004_The Black Death, Plague, and Mass Mortality









Understanding Early Christian Art integrates the motifs and subjects of early Christian art with the symbols and themes of early Christian literature and liturgy. The book begins with an analysis of the non-narrative subjects of early Christian art, for example the Good Shepherd, the praying figure, and fish and birds. The book then explores the narrative images, portraits, and dogmatically orientated figures found in Roman catacomb painting, sarcophagus relief sculpture, and early mosaics, ivories and manuscript illumination. The parallels between biblical exegesis as found in early homilies and catechetical documents and images portraying particular biblical figures are also discussed. Finally, the book examines iconographic themes such as Jonah, Daniel, Abraham offering Isaac, and Adam and Eve. Understanding Early Christian Art offers an insightful, erudite, and lavishly illustrated analysis of the meaning and message of early Christianity as revealed in the texts and images of the early Christians.