Mapping the Movement of People & Materials

Maiya Aiba, Camile Cleveland, Jennifer Simpson, Alexandra Wisner, Fiona Xin

Spring 2015

In Introduction to Art History with Caroline Bruzelius, students learned about the History of Art from Prehistory to the Middle Ages. A significant part of the course concerned mapping the transportation of raw materials as well as objects acquired through colonial expropriation. For their final projects, students in the course developed Neatline projects in which they mapped the development and trade of materials used in ancient and Medieval artistry within historic, social, and geographic contexts. The following projects are examples of exemplary student projects:


Maiya Aiba – Athenian Use and Acquisition of Timber in the Ancient Mediterranean

Camile Cleveland – Athenian Temples

Jennifer Simpson – Mapping the Materials and Construction of the Pyramids of Giza

Alexandra Wisner – History and Development of Greek Coinage in the Mediterranean

Fiona Xin – History and Movement of Lapis Lazuli


Access all of these projects here.

The Medieval Apostles at the Nasher Museum of Art

Katrina Robelo (Trinity ’12), Meg Williams (Trinity ’12)

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University holds four pieces of an important ensemble of Romanesque figural sculpture. These four apostles, along with two others at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, another at the Smith College Museum of Art, and one more apostle and an angel at the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester, were originally part of a 12th-century Ascension scene, probably on the exterior of a church, that would have been comprised of at least fourteen figures. Unfortunately, several pieces of the original group have been lost, but other evidence remains.

The goals of this project were to recontextualize the figures at Duke by recreating a hypothesis of their original arrangement and proposing a hypothesis of color for the girues in order to better understand how polychromy creates and enhances particular visual effects.

Meg Williams (Trinity ’12) and Katrina Robelo (Trinity ’12) thus drew upon conservation reports of the surviving sculptures, as well as Medieval manuscript illuminations to visualize these apostles as they might have originally appeared.

Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany Collaboration

Timothy Senior, Victoria SzaboFlorian Wiencek


Duke has established a close relationship with members of the Jacobs University community in Bremen, Germany. In 2012-13 several Jacobs graduate students came to campus as exchange students. We taught our Digital Cities course, which was coupled virtually with a course at Jacobs. Both courses met at the same time and videoconferences discussion and workshop sessions with one another, as well as sharing project crits.

This project was presented at the Digital Heritage International Congress 2013 and subsequently published:

Digital Cities: A collaborative engagement with urban heritage


Digital Cities: Representing the Past and Inventing the Future

Mapping German Construction

Paul Jaskot


Few eras in art history are as famous for their buildings than Weimar Germany (1918-33) and none is more notorious than the Nazi period (1933-45). Yet how are they related in terms of architects and architecture? This project seeks to probe the continuities and ruptures of cultural production between the two periods by looking at the German construction industry. This history from below (as it were) involves art history in questions of labor, resource allocation, and the larger political economy of the state among other issues. As such, the aim of the project is to gather and visualize large datasets of building campaigns through Germany to reveal patterns of construction that may raise other art historical problems. Special attention will be given to visualizing construction during World War II, such as in occupied Krakow, where construction, forced labor, and occupation policy came together.

Modeling Medieval British Castles

Students in ARTHIST 290 and 89S The Medieval Castle in Britain were tasked with creating 3D models of real or imaginary medieval British castles as part of their final projects. Each class was divided into teams of 3 students, each being assigned a role in the project: building manager, architect, or historian. The building manager researched the building process and economic and environmental aspects of building a medieval castle. The historian gathered information on the history of the castle and its family/families. The architect built the castle according to both the building manager and the historian’s research. The students in these classes had very little or no 3D modeling experience when they entered the class. The architects created their models in SketchUp under the guidance of Andrea Giordano and Cosimo Monteleone (University of Padua) and Hannah Jacobs (Wired! Lab, Duke University).

The following are three of the models created by the students:


Norwich Castle

This model is based on the stone keep of Norwich Castle, built between 1095-1110. Norwich Castle was chosen because of its intricate design – note the copious blind arcading, crenellations, and fake portcullises.


Faversham Castle

Our team consisted of John, our architect, Luke, our engineer, and Yifan, the building manager/historian. We decided to construct a nonexistent but historically accurate castle and chose Faversham, England for its location. It is an Edwardian castle of the mid fourteenth century.


Barmouth Castle

Barmouth Castle is a fictitious castle that we created to show our knowledge and understanding of the architecture and history of medieval castles in Great Britain. It was built by Edward I from 1282 to 1287 in Barmouth, Wales, as part of his campaign to conquer and control the Welsh people. It is grand in size and concentric in design, drawing inspiration from Harlech Castle, Beaumaris Castle, and Conwy Castle. Like all castles of this time period, it was built to show the king’s power and wealth.


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!

“Not as rewarding as the North:” Holger Cahill’s Southern Folk Art Expedition

Katherine Jentleson

Project Website

Ph.D. Candidate Katherine Jentleson’s work on a curator’s trip through the American south in 1935 makes use of Neatline digital timeline technology to visualize her research. The project grew out of the Wired! group’s Mapping Time & Space: Configuring Connections, Trade & Travel, Past & Present held in May 2013. Katherine’s essay earned the 2013 Archives of American Art Graduate Research Essay Prize.

Old Stones and New Technologies: Computer Vision and Medieval Stone Carving

Caroline Bruzelius, Carlo Tomasi

This project is a Humanities Writ Large funded initiative between Professors Caroline Bruzelius and Carlo Tomasi. It focused on capturing data on medieval chisel marks through photography in order to analyze chisel marks and process in the carving of stones for medieval sculpture and buildings.

Simon Verity, a stone carver from St. John the Divine, visited Duke to give students, graduate students & faculty experience in stone cutting. It was featured on Duke Today. Photo by Jared Lazarus/Duke University Photography.

The Lives of Things

Caroline BruzeliusMark Olson

Fall 2012 - present

The goal of the “Lives of Things” project is to create new interactive displays and hybrid digital/physical exhibition platforms that reconstruct thelocation, color, and meaning of works of art in the collections of the Nasher Museum of Art.  A wide range of interests and interdisciplinary expertise are sought for this project, from Art History and Visual & Media Studies to Computer Science and Engineering. Students will work in teams in close collaboration with professors and graduate students or post-docs, learning an array of techniques and technologies that include the following: 3d modeling and acquisition using laser scanning and photogrammetry, geospatial mapping, augmented reality, gaming platforms, projection mapping, spatial analysis, data visualization, web or app design, writing, graphic design, database design and management, computer programming, interactive sensors and gesture recognition interfaces such as the Kinect and Leap Motion.

Check out a preview (right) and demonstration (below) of the tablet interface that currently features in an exhibit at the Nasher. This app enables visitors to digitally recolor medieval statues in the Nasher’s collection in order to see for themselves how the statues might have originally appeared.






Sinan Goknur

Mariano Tepper

Guillermo Sapiro


The Museum Inside Out

Wired! The Lives of Things


Alife Arch App

The Alife Arch

Decoding Artifacts

On With Their Heads

News & Events

Nasher10 Homecoming

On With Their Heads

Iara Dundas, Elisabeth Narkin, Tim Prizer

This project follows the complex cultural biographies of two sculptural fragments in the Brummer Collection at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. In analyzing the Head of a Virgin from the choir screen at Chartres’ cathedral and a Virtue from the north transept portal of Notre-Dame of Paris, this project seeks to better understand the objects’ various historical contexts and meanings and hopes to offer innovative solutions as to how best to represent these perspectives in a museum setting. In thinking through the stories of the Virgin and theVirtue, iconoclasm is employed as a unifying interpretive lens through which to examine the evolving significations of the objects. Guided by research questions about what narratives objects contain and how digital representation can tell these stories, “On with their Heads” is envisioned as an intervention in the traditional scholarship on these two well-known edifices as well as a proposal about how research in the humanities research can benefit from a mutually influential relationship with digital technologies.