Towns of late antiquity in southern Iberia and northern Africa (300-800)

The art of restituing lost monuments

The aim of architectural restitution is to propose an ideal reconstruction of a ruined building, of which our knowledge is only partial. This practice was invented and codified during the Italian Renaissance, with the aim of recovering the image of the city of Rome at the time of its ancient splendour. To create such representations, the specialists of the time were called upon: artists, painters, sculptors and architects such as Raphael, Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Giuliano di Sangallo. The main principles of the exercise have changed little to the present day. Scientific analysis of the remains in situ allows us to formulate a graphic proposal for reconstruction. However, as ancient buildings have come down to us in ruins, our knowledge of them is still incomplete, and reconstruction therefore requires a combination of archaeological evidence and hypotheses, which are by definition fragile. These proposals inevitably leave room for doubt, subjective interpretation and imagination. The art of restitution lies in this balanced and harmonious combination of certainties and doubts. While the principles remain unchanged, the tools used are quite different. Over the last few decades, 3D imaging and, more generally, the new technologies for producing, managing and distributing images, have made it possible to renew the exercise. The Invisible Cities exhibition contributes to this reinvention of the art of restoring lost monuments.

In the case of Late Antique buildings, the richness of the subject and the diversity of situations make it delicate to define normative models, as Vitruvius and his successors tried to do for Greek and Roman monuments. We have therefore chosen to use a series of case studies to explore different scenarios for the evolution of spaces: abandonment, change of use, use of reused materials or the invention of new building typologies all offer situations that the diversity of the examples selected attempts to illustrate.



Invisibles cities
Towns of late antiquity in southern Iberia and northern Africa (300-800)

A Atlas & Iconem exposition

© Iconem 2023

Design: Jean-François Bernard – IRAA, Titien Bartette – Iconem, Laurent Brassous – Université La Rochelle, Sabine Panzram – Universität Hamburg

3D modelling: Chloé Martin – Iconem
Photogrammetry: Marjorie Coulin – Iconem

Production: Project Atlas – Iconem – IRAA – Universität Hamburg – Casa de Velázquez – UMR LIENSs 7266 (CNRS/Université de La Rochelle)

Technical Production: Chloé Martin, Julie Lebastard, Issanou Kamardine Ousseni, Galdric Robert – Iconem

Funding: ANR – DFG – Archäologischer Park Xanten

With the kind scientific collaboration of :

Miguel Alba Calzado – Consorcio Ciudad Monumental de Mérida ; Stefan Ardeleanu – Universität Hamburg ; Henri Broise – IRAA-CNRS ; Laurent Callegarin – IRAA/UPPA ; Moheddine Chaouali – Institut National du Patrimoine de Tunis ; Christoph Eger – Archäologischer Park Xanten ; Pieter Houten – Universität Hamburg ; Sonia Gutiérrez Lloret – Universidad de Alicante ; Ada Lasheras – Casa de Velázquez ; Antoine Laurent – UMR Traces-Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès ; Bastien Lefebvre – UMR Traces-Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès ; Pedro Mateos Cruz – Instituto de Arqueología-Mérida (CSIC-Junta de Extremadura); Pierre Moret – UMR Traces-Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès
Y el equipo de la ANR Archéostraits