Website Review: Ashes2Art

Full Name: Ashes2Art. Virtual Reconstructions of Ancient Monuments

URL: (1) and (2)

Content: early stages of a collection of 3D computer reconstructions of ancient Old World buildings and monuments (Greek, Roman, later also Mesopotamian, Egyptian, …) made using open-source software; 10 buildings/monuments so far from 1 archaeological site (varying states of completion) entry page

Authorship: Arne Flaten & Paul Olsen (Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC), Alyson Gill (Arkansas State University, State University, AR); articles and entries as well as some photos and reconstructions have individual authors

Host/Maintenance: (1) Coastal Carolina University; (2) Arkansas State University; frequency of updates not stated; project blog only has touristy entries from June and October 2007

Permanence/Archiving: no policy stated

Licensing: only generic, all-encompassing statements: (1) “©2009 All rights Reserved. Coastal Carolina University”; (2) “© Ashes 2 Art : A Digital Dephi Project 2009-10 All rights Reserved”; no clear licensing indicated nor citation guidelines; it is stated that many photos (including the uncredited ones?) are licensed from the commercial Archivision archive and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston which are implicitly not available for licensing unless directly from their owners; in presentations, it is said that the reconstructions are “freely available and downloadable” but it isn’t clearly explained on the website “Delphi, Greece (Stage 2, 2007-09)” project page

Usefulness: 3D reconstructions are in demand for the newer generation of video-gaming-suffused and CGI-movies-immersed young people (plans for a Digital Delphi Second Life Tholos of Athena Pronaia) but this project does not have substantive content yet and is still more a collection of short articles; “Ashes2Art also hopes to serve as an online resource for vetting 3D reconstruction projects worldwide such as those found at: We plan to enlist researchers from other digital reconstruction projects to establish criteria and write online reviews.”

Ease of Use: The system’s ease of use is OK; the two websites don’t have the same content though similar which is a bit confusing; quite a few links lead to “Under Construction” messages entry page

Appeal: The design is nice, neat, looks professional

Accessibility: The unique project name is very easy to find in search engines; a Google search for “architecture reconstruction 3d” doesn’t show Ashes2Art on the 1st page of results; specific search for the project’s model monument (“tholos of Athena Pronaia”) gives a ranking of no. 5 in the Google results; unfortunately, domain is a painter’s web store

Credibility: Not currently linked to much by established academic websites in the field, so it is hard to assess the project’s credibility

Reuse: It is not easy to export data in convenient formats monument page: Temple of Apollo in Delphi, with photo pop-up

This project seems more about training young art history scholars for the new challenges in academia regarding educational techniques and computer tools than a purely research-oriented endeavor. Copyright issues are not fully resolved: for the buildings so far researched, they’re still “[a]waiting permission from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture to publish the … QuickTime panoramas online …”. “But in order for Ashes2Art to be a truly comprehensive, searchable online database on the scale we envision, we need to have access from the French School and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture for all of the archaeological reports that have been published since the excavations were begun there in the late 19th century.” (August 2008 First Monday article). Ashes2Art is mentioned in some scholarly blogs, e.g., Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog but most online mentions are in papers by the leaders of the project, e.g., the XXI International CIPA Symposium, Athens 2007, scholarly presentation. Once the panoramas are added as well as more sites, this should be a useful resource. I am looking forward to see the next addition: Delos (Greece), planned by next year. Student Essay page: Temple of Apollo in Delphi, without relevant illustrations

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