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 Kingdom of Sicily Database

Caroline Bruzelius, John Taormina, David Tremmel, Joseph Williams

2011 - present

Project Website

This is a geo-referenced database of historic images (15th-early 20th centuries) of the medieval monuments and cities of the historic Kingdom of Sicily, in south Italy. We are collecting and cataloguing images from museums, libraries, archives and publications that illustrate monuments that have been heavily affected by urban expansion, earthquakes, wars (especially the aerial bombardment of WWII), and restoration. The database is organized topographically by location.


Our purpose is to make the tens of thousands of images produced by travelers and scholars (often as part of the Grand Tour experience), now dispersed in hundreds of collections worldwide, available to the public for research and study. The project has been supported between 2011 and 2014 by a Collaborative Research Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has also been supported by Duke University and the Hertziana Library.

This initiative is directed by Caroline Bruzelius and William Tronzo, with Paola Vitolo (the University of Catania) as the Project Manager. A team of Italian scholars has collaborated in the research, and work is proceeding at Duke with the help of Joseph Williams, a doctoral candidate in the History of Art.

Related News and Events

ARLIS/NA Reviews Kingdom of Sicily Database

Kingdom of Sicily Image Database Launches!

The Lives of Things

Caroline Bruzelius, Sinan GoknurMark OlsonMariano Tepper, Guillermo Sapiro

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.





Related Courses

The Museum Inside Out

Related Projects

The Alife Arch

Decoding Artifacts

On With Their Heads

Related News and Events

Nasher10 Homecoming

Paris of Waters

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.

A Portrait of Venice

Kristin Huffman Lanzoni


This innovative exhibition opens at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art in September 2017. Jacopo De’ Barbari’s patented image, a meticulous portrait of Venice in 1500, is the gateway to a world of knowledge. Along with the mural-sized, first state print from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the exhibition features a number of interactive digital engagements that bring the city to life. Multi-media visualizations of the print’s art historical and historical material have led to exciting discoveries and invaluable understandings, information to be shared with the public for the first time. The result will be an original, highly dynamic, and multi-sensory way of experiencing art and its history.

A collaborative, long-term Visualizing Venice and Wired! research initiative, this project currently involves the following team members:

Kristin Huffman Lanzoni
Iara Dundas
Ludovica Galeazzo
Annie Haueter
Julia Huang
Hannah Jacobs
Laura Moure-Cecchini
Elisabeth Narkin
Mary Kate Weggeland

Related Projects

Venice Interactive Visual Atlas

Visualizing Venice


Statues Speak

Faculty Advisors: Elizabeth Baltes, Coastal Carolina University; Sheila Dillon, Duke University

Undergraduate Fellows: Jessica Williams, Christy Kuesel, Darrah Panzarella, Mary Kate Weggeland


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.