The transformative power of the Mysteries is most palpably signaled today by the deployment of the innovative buildings that once framed the rites within the sacred landscape—a dozen extraordinary monuments, each distinct within the history of Greek architecture, each deftly positioned within the terrain to heighten the experience of the initiate, each archaeologically well-preserved although no longer standing. In concert with the landscape, they justifiably make Samothrace one of the most important expressions of Hellenistic sacred space in the ancient Mediterranean. We have developed the three-dimensional model of the Sanctuary to both as a research tool and as a visual demonstration.
In making the model of the Sanctuary, we aimed to address two fundamental questions, the first archaeological and the second experiential. Archaeologically, the model gives us a much clearer understanding of the terrain and the buildings in elevation. It serves as a valuable tool for clarifying certain abrupt changes in elevation between buildings, which tend to be elided on a two-dimensional plan. Experientially, we wanted to understand more explicitly how architecture was deployed across the dramatic terrain to heighten the experience of initiation.
The videos move with the pilgrim through the Sanctuary. Because the initiation took place at night, the videos entering the Sanctuary are set in darkness. Those exploring the path of the initiate after the ceremonies are set during the day. We chose 9:30 am on the 4 June 200 BC. The camera is set roughly at eye-level to mimic the vision of the pilgrim.
1. THIS WALKTHROUGH RECREATES THE EXPERIENCE OF THE PILGRIMS ENTERING THE SANCTUARY IN THE EVENING, PROCEEDING THROUGH THE PROPYLON OF PTOLEMY II, DOWN THE RAMP AND INTO THE THEATRAL COMPLEX ON THE EASTERN HIILL.
2. AFTER STOPPING IN THE THEATRAL COMPLEX, PILGRIMS PROCEEDED AROUND THE DEDICATION OF PHILIP III AND ALEXANDER IV AND THE IONIC PORCH, DESCENDING TO THE CENTRAL SANCTUARY DOWN THE STEEP SACRED WAY. AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SACRED WAY, PILGRIMS MOVE THROUGH A NARROW PASSAGE BETWEEN THE ROTUNDA OF ARSINOE II AND THE HALL OF CHORAL DANCERS TO ENTER THE CENTRAL SANCTUARY.
3. THIS VISUALIZATION TRACES THE PATH OF THE PILGRIM FROM THE HALL OF CHORAL DANCERS TO THE HIERON. IT SHOWS THE CENTRAL SANCTUARY TO THE NORTH OF THE HALL OF CHORAL DANCERS, THE DINING COMPLEXES ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE RAVINE TO THE WEST, AND NARROW PASSAGE LEADING NORTH TO THE HIERON.
4. JUST HOW VISIBLE WAS THE STATUE OF THE NIKE THAT CROWNED THE HILL ABOVE THE THEATER? IN THIS VISUALIZATION, WE MOVE FROM THE HIERON PAST THE “HALL OF VOTIVE GIFTS” AND THE ALTAR COURT, AND THEN UP THE STEPS OF THE THEATER TO THE NIKE MONUMENT.
5. A STOA, OVER 100 METERS LONG, DOMINATED THE WESTERN SIDE OF THE SANCTUARY. HERE, WE FOLLOW THE PATH OF THE PILGRIM FROM THE NIKE MONUMENT AND THROUGH THE STOA, ENDING WITH A VIEW OF THE CENTRAL SANCTUARY.
6. THIS VISUALIZATION TRACES THE PATH OF AN INITIATE LEAVING THE SANCTUARY.
7. THIS VISUALIZATION TRACES THE PATH FROM THE HIERON TO THE SHIP MONUMENT.