Architectural Elements

  • Perilous Plaster Pieces (Poem)

    11 Nov 2016
    jcmundy
    18890
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    Egad! Hey guess what! A picture of me! Brace yourself for my poetic story.

    Egad! Hey guess what! A picture of me!
    Brace yourself for my poetic story.

    Sometime before, I had encountered you.
    I remember the years; it was just two.
    But now trouble you bring me, my great foe.
    Oh, here in Samothrace, you mock me so!

    Let's take a look at plaster; it's so fun! Now you get to peek at the work we've done...

    Let’s take a look at plaster; it’s so fun!
    Now you get to peek at the work we’ve done…

    Many fragments there are, much work to do.
    The colors, you ask? White, red, pink and blue.
    White and blue (with a little red as well)
    Are found on the topcoat; there they do dwell.
    Some backings exist, but first you must think
    Of what hue they are, either white or pink.

    Red, white, and blue are plasters that I see.  Each fragment special and priceless to me.

    Red, white, and blue are plasters that I see.
    Each fragment special and priceless to me.

    Architectural features also live
    On the plasters’ faces; answers they give.
    Cavetto and cyma and ovolo,
    Numerous moldings to look at and know.
    Confusing perhaps, but alas, truth calls,
    Be prepared, for I shall build Nike’s walls!

    This is an ovolo, a monstrous force. But where does it go? Pin it on a course!

    This is an ovolo, a monstrous force.
    But where does it go? Pin it on a course!

    And you, oh lion, I have a small doubt;
    Help! Are you a functional water spout?
    Maybe I made a fantastic mistake?
    In reality, you may be a fake!
    The more that I learn, more questions soar.
    One day, King Simba, I’ll hear your great roar.

    Plaster lion - an intellectual scare. It's hard to fathom. Enemies, beware!

    Plaster lion – an intellectual scare.
    It’s hard to fathom. Enemies, beware!

    We learned a lot, our knowledge superior
    It’s time to finalize this interior.
    The finish, I see, is within my sight.
    If I fail? Bonna won’t feed me tonight!

    Queen Bonna rules with her helper, Abi. What'll they make for dinner? Something yummy!

    Queen Bonna rules with her helper, Abi.
    What’ll they make for dinner? Something yummy!

    (Thanks to Madeleine and architect Chase,
    Whose aid helped create Nike’s wondrous space.
    Also to Bonna and to her big brain
    Of which without we would all go insane.)

    Here Madeleine sketches a plaster piece. She gets more tired as fragments increase.

    Here Madeleine sketches a plaster piece.
    She gets more tired as fragments increase.

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  • Columns, Altar Courts, and Angel Babies: An architecture blog post on Samothrace

    11 Nov 2016
    jcmundy
    19011
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    By: Chase Jordan

    The 2015 summer season had many architectural projects to tackle! Within our office cottage lies the “architecture grotto,” where our motto is “home is where the surfboard is,” surfboard being the nickname of the tank of a laptop used for architecture software.

    In order to get started, the Master Sanctuary AutoCAD file containing the cumulative survey points and linework of our previous seasons needed to be organized. There were mislabeled polylines, multiple layer colors for similar stones, duplicate points, and unused layers. After going through each layer of the file, creating a color coding system that builds off of the previous one, and restructuring how to show dates for point data, the file is now a perfect angel baby! Each new set of survey points is placed on its own layer titled “PNTS – (1 or 2 word description + the date it was placed in the file).” The linework from the survey data, however, is identified and color coded according to its function. For example, all euthynteria blocks are blue, and all foundation courses are green, etc.

    AutoCAD line drawing of the sanctuary

    AutoCAD line drawing of the sanctuary

    With the AutoCAD file in good shape, we began work on the Altar Court. One of the major goals of the season is to better understand the original elevation of the Altar Court. It is a surprisingly puzzling question, due to the comparatively low floor level of the Hall of Votive Gifts immediately to the north and additionally the relationship to the relatively high level of the theater orchestra to the west. Somehow, the Altar court must have met the same level of the theater orchestra, and simultaneously provide circulation down to the Hall of Votive Gifts. Additionally, new theories are being tested regarding the number of bays above the diazoma in the theater.

    AutoCAD drawing of the Altar Court, Theater, and Nike Precinct

    AutoCAD drawing of the Altar Court, Theater, and Nike Precinct

    Another test project in the architecture grotto was testing 3D modeling of trenches from excavations of the Nike precinct. Using excavation diaries and a provided grid coordinate system, we mapped our first trench on the eastern side of the precinct, using the elevation data to plot the finds. One experimental method of representing this data is to use an exploded axonometric drawing, which shows both plan and section data of the trench and stratifies the layers where different materials where found in the trench. This technique would show the shape and location of the trench, elevations of layers in which materials were found, what type of materials, how many, and their respective catalog numbers. The data collected from this exercise will be used to find if there is any correlation between the layers of excavated materials and what materials were used to show interiority, exteriority, and whether or not the Nike precinct was a covered monument.

    Axonometric drawing of a trench in the Nike precinct

    Axonometric drawing of a trench in the Nike precinct

    Another ongoing project throughout the summer was converting the hand colored stone maps into a digital format. Different types of stone from each of the major monuments have been previously identified and mapped on paper, and now we’re transferring the data into illustrator and ArchGIS. The illustrator maps will be designed for publication and the ArchGIS data can be used to geotag the stones to better understand the elevation and topography of the site.

    CJ4

    Hand-colored stone map

    The rediscovery of the M190 column in the central ravine outside of the sanctuary was an exciting find! It belonged to the Milesian Dedication building, whose other column drums have been measured and drawn for publication of the Western Hill. With a team of very precise archeologists as measuring assistants, we drew the column in 1:10 scale with noteworthy characteristics to represent its current state. The drawing will eventually be inked to be included with the other inked column drum drawings of the Milesian Dedication.

    Drawing of the M190 column

    Drawing of the M190 column

    And last, but certainly not least, the Nike monument! Last summer, we worked very carefully to understand the relationship of the Nike Monument to the Theater. After several weeks of measuring the archeological finds and comparing that to the survey data in the field, we were able to put together a rendering of the reconstructed monument, which has since been published by the Louvre and several other publications. The goal this year was to update the rendering with colored plaster wall panels that have been excavated in the precinct, update the 3D model of the Nike sculpture herself, and adjust the architectural features to line up more closely with the archeological evidence.

    Rendering of the reconstruction of the Nike Monument

    Rendering of the reconstruction of the Nike Monument

     

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  • Mapping the Stones of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods

    11 Nov 2016
    jcmundy
    18748
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    The Sanctuary of the Great Gods at Samothrace is constructed from a wide variety of local stone types. Over the past three seasons we have researched which types of stones were used in the construction of these buildings and from which parts of the island they may have been quarried. The choices of stone types for specific monuments can reveal information about dating various buildings as well as potentially reveal information about the degrees to which different stone types were valued.

    Stones in the Faux-Mycenaean Niche, including Vuggy Crystalline Limestone and Porphyritic Quartz Trachyte. Photograph by J. Mundy

    Stones in the Faux-Mycenaean Niche, including Vuggy Crystalline Limestone and Porphyritic Quartz Trachyte. Photograph by J. Mundy

    In 2013 Sara Chang, with the assistance of Dr. Bill Size from Emory University, mapped the different types of stone used in most of the buildings around the sanctuary. She created thirteen maps of various buildings around the sanctuary, and in 2014 Rao Lu cleaned and color-coded the maps for future reference.

    This year geologist Dr. Bill Size from Emory University has been verifying the stone maps. He has also been standardizing the scientific language used to describe the stones and regulating the identification of the stones from all of the major ancient architectural structures in the sanctuary. Additionally, with Dr. Size’s assistance and expertise, I have been creating new stone maps for areas around the Lower Stoa. The Lower Stoa complex of dining rooms A-P was the only architectural area not previously catalogued.

    Lower Stoa drawing 9F of the entire Lower Stoa Plan by J. Kurtich 1980

    Lower Stoa drawing 9F of the entire Lower Stoa Plan by J. Kurtich 1980

    In order to create the new stone maps of this area, I had to work from an actual state plan to keep track of the complicated layers, walls, and structures made of rocks and stones. I first consulted the scanned architectural drawings of the site, and then printed copies of the actual state drawings of the Lower Stoa.

    For the past two and half years, I have been working with the Samothrace project to help sort and organize the database of Samothrace records and have worked closely with the digital copies of the architectural drawings of the site. For this stone mapping project I went through our records and printed copies of the 1994 actual state drawing of the south portion of the Lower Stoa by John Kurtich, as well as three other drawings for other parts of the Lower Stoa.

    Actual State plan of the south Lower Stoa, drawing 9D, from 1994 by J. Kurtich

    Actual State plan of the south Lower Stoa, drawing 9D, from 1994 by J. Kurtich

    After I had prepared the plans, I consulted with Dr. Size on types of stones. Dr. Size taught me how to identify the different types of stones that were used in the structures around the Lower Stoa. Then I spent time in the field closely inspecting each stone, and identifying the types on the actual state plan for four different sections of the Lower Stoa. Finally, I checked back with Dr. Size for corrections to my determinations for accuracy.

    Lower Stoa, viewed from north. Photograph by Dr. Bonna Wescoat 2009

    Lower Stoa, viewed from north. Photograph by Dr. Bonna Wescoat 2009

    The stone maps are now being digitized for future research, using a combination of Adobe Illustrator and ArcGIS software. Once finished we will be able to use these plans as a resource for future studies on the construction sequence of the buildings, the sources of stone for the sanctuary, and various other future studies.

    Working stone map of the south Lower Stoa, plan by J. Kurtich, 1994, stone mapping by Dr. Size and J. Mundy, 2015

    Working stone map of the south Lower Stoa, plan by J. Kurtich, 1994, stone mapping by Dr. Size and J. Mundy, 2015

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