The British Association of Near Eastern Archaeology conference is being held at the Schools of Archaeology History, and Anthropology and Classics at Lampeter (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) from January 6th-January 8th 2016 ( My paper ‘(Re)constructing the sacred landscape of Saqqara’ has been accepted for the Sacred Landscapes session.

(Re)constructing the sacred landscape of Saqqara

The collaboration of GIS with 3D reconstruction modelling is enabling the creation of an innovative multi-layered three-dimensional depiction of the complex sacred landscape of North Saqqara. The georeferenced landscape model is providing a digital research heuristic through the application of the latest theoretical methodologies within archaeological GIS. Informed by the theoretical framework, the project will visualise and reinterpret the Late Period monuments; their circumstance within the sacred funerary landscape of Saqqara, their temporal association with other monuments, and their influence of, and by, pathways of movement through the landscape.

The application of three-dimensional simulation and representation permits accessibility to the ancient sacred landscape from a corporeal perspective which opens up new possibilities for research. Moving beyond simple line of sight analysis, the digital ancient landscape can be experientially traversed and examined as one would move within the physical landscape. The digital landscape can be assessed diachronically; including or removing structures extant or lost within specific periods; adjusting the time of day or weather conditions. Whilst this method prioritises visual over and above other sensory modalities, it provides innovative opportunities for reassessment of the contested sacred landscape at Saqqara.

It has been suggested that representations are removed from the context of human participation (Thomas 2004, 200), and in situ field experience is paramount as the principle source of knowledge (Tilley 2004, 118-119), and these views are not without merit. However, these approaches should not detract from the adoption of representations in archaeological landscape studies to increase insight and aide interpretation of the archaeological past when implemented within controlled frameworks.


Thomas, J. 2004. Archaeology and modernity. London: Routledge.

Tilley, C. 2004. The materiality of stone: explorations in landscape phenomenology. Oxford: Berg.