Digital Athens

Sheila Dillon, Timothy SheaNikos Gkiokas

Fall 2014 - present

The aim of this project is to produce a comprehensive digital map and database of the archaeological remains of ancient Athens. This project is a collaborative multi-disciplinary endeavor, and involves undergraduate and graduate students at Duke as well as colleagues based in Athens at the American School of Classical Studies. The Duke team is currently focusing on digitizing and geo-referencing excavation plans, including the wealth of material uncovered in the Athens Metro Excavations, and plotting the find locations of burials, wells, sculpture, inscriptions, and industrial workshops. The visualization of how the city changed over time is a major aim of this project. To date (January 2016), we have geo-located approximately 800 burials, almost 300 wells, over 700 pieces of sculpture, and all of the buildings in the Athenian Agora from the Archaic period through late Antiquity. Students interested in participating in this project, which includes opportunities for summer fieldwork on site in Athens, should contact me at sheila.dillon[at]



Current Duke Team Members:
Co-leaders, Professor Sheila DillonTimothy D. Shea, PhD candidate, AAHVSNikos Gkiokas, PhD student, AAHVS
Evangeline Marecki

Previous Duke Team Members:
Julian Salazar, Trinity ‘15
Alexandra Smith, Trinity ‘15
Alina Taalman, MFA/EDA ‘15
Casey Tissue, Trinity ‘16
Anna Vivian, Trinity ‘16

Athens Collaborators:
Dr. Leda Costaki, Research Archivist, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Bruce Hartzler, IT Specialist, Agora Excavations, American School of Classical Studies at Athens


The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Athens


Death, burial and commemoration in Athens from antiquity to the late 19th century.

Duke/Durham Ghosts

Victoria Szabo

Fall 2014 - present

Duke/Durham Ghosts explores the presence of the local past through augmented reality and web-based application design. This project is a partnership between Duke Wired and the Information Science + Information Studies Program. Our goal is to enrich lived experience in space by overlaying images, audio files, and other information from past events onto contemporary sites on campus and beyond. This kind of place-making emphasizes thick histories and rich descriptions of specific spots as ways into understanding a topic or theme in an embodied, spatial way. Building upon earlier ISIS Capstone experiments in ISIS with Preservation Durham on creating AR tours in the city using existing scripts, and on creating an interactive marker-based maps of campus, and on the Visualizing Venice digital heritage projects, our goal is to create a set of downloadable experiences for the public that rely upon original archive research and media authorship by our students. We are currently creating “ghost tours” of the History of Duke Activism, The Transformations of East Campus, and The Construction of West Campus. This involves working with Duke’s Special Collections in the Rubenstein Library to search for (and scan) primary historical materials, mining newspaper archives for relevant coverage of theme events, creating text, image, audio, and video features on specific topics, and organizing them all into map-based databases accessible as websites, augmented reality experiences on campus, and eventually within a virtual game environment.

Students involved with this ongoing project can focus on the historical research, the art and media design components, digital mapping, interface design, and application development. Participants can receive Independent Study credit in either Visual and Media Studies or ISIS, or work as Undergraduate Research Fellows (pending approval) depending upon their interests. ISIS Capstone students in Spring 2015 can also work on the information design, technical and UI components of the project as part of their semester’s work.




Victoria SzaboPaolo BorinLudovica Galeazzo


The Ghett/App mobile application was developed by Paolo Borin, Ludovica Galeazzo and Victoria Szabo of the Visualizing Venice team to complement the physical exhibition “Venice, the Jews and Europe 1516-2016,” which was held at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice from June 19 – November 13, 2016. Ghett/App is a augmented reality multimedia app designed to be used on-site in the Venetian Ghetto.

It highlights fourteen geolocated points of interest, drawing attention to the built features of the space as they have changed over time, through text, audio, image, video, and augmented reality experiences. While some of the app content was adapted from the museum exhibition as a way to situate the user, the augmented reality features were designed especially for use on location, and to take advantage of being in the actual space under discussion.

The team layered schematic 3D models of historic buildings with contemporary panorama images in order to demonstrate architectural change over time within the once-enclosed area of the Ghetto. Users can use the phone’s motion features to explore the panorama scenes dynamically. The ghostly edifices of the past rise up through the phone display, highlighting the changing nature of experience in the space. The AR features complement text and audio commentaries in English and Italian that explain the significance of particular structures, as well as the overall history of the area.  While this version of the project was rolled out in conjunction with the exhibition opening, the team plans to continue developing content out of historical research materials, and integrating it into app channels. They hope to include some new materials developed by students in the Visualizing Venice Summer Workshop, as well as to explore other innovative ways to present content through image recognition and other advanced AR techniques.  Szabo plans to include AR storytelling about Venice as a unit in her Digital Storytelling class at Venice International University this Fall as well.


Visualizing Venice

Imagining Venice

Kristin Huffman & Brad Lewis


This project brings to life the first accurate map of Venice produced in 1729 by Ludovico Ughi. Printed in sections, it included sixteen vignettes of notable sites and a legend of important locations within the city. Sold to visitors, especially those coming to Venice as part of the Grand Tour and lavish parties of Carnival, this map was printed in a transportable album format that could be cut out and reassembled upon arrival back home. Working with the document in its original format, the team will animate and contextualize the newly acquired version at the Rubenstein Library at Duke University. The map and its story will form the centerpiece of an exhibition in 2019 at Duke Libraries that celebrates the collection’s rare Venetian books.


Lizzet Clifton

Noah Michaud

Angela Tawfik

Mary Kate Weggeland

The Medieval Kingdom of Sicily Image Database

Caroline Bruzelius, Paola Vitolo

2011 - present | Project Website

The Kingdom of Sicily Image Database is a geo-referenced database of historic images from the 15th through the mid- 20th centuries that represent the medieval monuments and cities constructed by the rulers of the historic Kingdom of Sicily: the Normans, the Hohenstaufen, the Swabians, and the Angevins. The kings and queens of these dynasties, who ruled from the late 11th until the early 15th centuries, were active patrons of the arts, founding, building and decorating hundreds of abbeys, churches, castles, and other kinds of monuments. Our database identifies, collects, and illustrates images that are found in museums, libraries, archives and publications throughout Europe and the United States as an aid for travelers and scholars. The images, which were often produced by traveling artists and architects as part of the Grand Tour, document the appearance of these historic structures prior to their transformation (or destruction) as the result of Baroque remodeling, urban expansion, earthquakes, the tragic aerial bombardment of WWII, and dramatic restoration.


The database is organized topographically by location. Mapping components “Map View” and “Map Research Questions” permit users to visualize their queries of the database in relation to Roman roads and ports, many of which were still the primary means of access to the Kingdom in the Middle Ages. Information about the website is available both in Italian and in English.

Our purpose is to make as many historic images available to the public for research and study as possible. This initiative was originally created with funds from 2011-2014 from The National Endowment for the Humanities; although we are currently not funded, we continue to receive it IT and data management support from Duke University.


Co-Pi’s: Caroline Bruzelius and Paola Vitolo

Project Manager: Joseph Williams

Data Manager and Data and Web Developer: David Tremmel

Project Co-Ordinator: William Broom

Research Collaborators: Francesco Gangemi, Olga Grlic

Metadata and Image Consultant: John Taormina

Web and Visualization Consultant: Hannah Jacobs

Geospatial Consultant: Brian Norberg

Affiliate Collaborator: Michael O’Sullivan

Student Researcher: Jessica Williams

News & Events

ARLIS/NA Reviews Kingdom of Sicily Database

Kingdom of Sicily Image Database Launches!

Paris of Waters

Focusing on the impact of water on the demographic, social, architectural, and urban development of the city of Paris through time

Sara Galletti

Spring 2014 - present

Paris of Waters is a research project that focuses on the impact of water on the demographic, social, architectural, and urban development of the city of Paris through time. The project is concerned with water in a wide array of forms—as resource, as commodity, as means of transportation, as funnel for the city’s waste, and as cause of disaster and death—and with making it visible as a powerful agent of urban change. Paris of Waters challenges traditional urban history narratives—which tend to focus on design, monumentality, and the stylistic features of the built environment—by highlighting the role of infrastructure, underground works, and hydraulic management and engineering as defining elements of a city’s development and history.



Thomas Aubert (Sciences Po 2018, Paris, France)

Gaby Bloom (Duke Trinity ’18)

Ronan Bouttier (Ph.D., Paris, France)

Andrew Lin (Duke Trinity ’19)

Dryden Quigley (Duke Trinity ’21)


Amanda Lazarus (Duke Graduate School)

Hanna Wiegers (Duke Trinity ’16)

Statues Speak

Statues are all around us, but we often walk past them without reflecting on who or what they represent. Once shiny new landmarks in the built environment, statues can become invisible over time. In our hurry to get from one place to another, we do not stop to read the inscriptions that often tell us why the statue was set up. In any case, the information given on the statue base is only part of the story. Statues can “speak” to us in many ways, but what if we could actually give them a voice? What would they want to tell us about themselves?

This project, a collaboration between undergraduate students and faculty at Duke University and Coastal Carolina University, aims to help statues speak, to help them tell their own stories. By combining historical research with mobile and web technologies, we will present the “autobiographies” of the statues on Duke’s campus, exploring how they fit into the fabric of Duke’s history and the long-standing practice of setting up honorific portrait statues.



Video research and script by Darrah Panzarella.


Christy Kuesel

Darrah Panzarella

Mary Kate Weggeland

Jessica Williams

Venice Interactive Visual Atlas

Kristin Huffman

Spring 2014 - present

The Venice Interactive Visual Atlas (VIVA) is an emerging website that will provide access to information about Venice through interactive historical views, maps, and surveys of Venice. Because of its remarkable archive, Venice is one the best documented cities in Europe, with vast information on the history of the city, its monuments, and its institutions. The VIVA website is conceived as a vehicle that brings the history of the city to scholars, students, and the general public by visualizing data on historic maps and cadasters. This digital atlas of Venice, unlike traditional atlases, permits the dynamic visualization of information about transformation and change of the city as a whole.


Gaby Bloom

Iara Dundas

Stephanie Fiddy

Ludovica Galeazzo

Hannah Jacobs

Jared Schwartz


A Portrait of Venice

Venice Virtual World

Visualizing Venice