Cartographic Modeling

In 1992-93, a digital terrain model (DTM) was created with a component of Softdesk, Inc., a civil engineering program to study the topography of the areas surrounding Corinth (Fig. 1). The software assisted in transforming the digitized elevation data (contour lines) from a series of 1:2000 topographical maps into a rendered multi-dimensional landscape. This process was done for ca. 35 square kilometers, which is the entire area of coverage for the 1:2000 topographic maps. This created a large DTM, which was based on a 20 meter square grid with 5 meter segments. Such a resource allowed for analysis of the Greek and Roman landscape at all scales.

Figure 1

One such example, involved the creation of a series of detailed DTM’s to understand the topography of the ancient Greek and Roman city. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during the early years of the excavations at Corinth, a huge excavation dump created an artificial peninsula of land that extended from Temple Hill (where the Temple of Apollo sits) out to the north (Fig. 4). The total length of the artificial mound is approximately 200 meters and its maximum height is approximately 15 meters. In the modern day, the excavation dump literally obscures a clear view of the nature of the topography of the ancient landscape. It was decided that the modern dump would need to be digitally removed in order to analyze the ancient topography underneath the excavation dump.

First, a DTM was built from the contours of the topographic map, reflecting the appearance of the area in the modern day (Fig. 2). The model accurately represented the modern day topography of Corinth, clearly illustrating the relationship (and focus of the excavation) between the excavation and the dump.

Figure 2

The second DTM was created by connecting the contour lines east and west of the artificial peninsula of land to create what may be a reasonable representation of the landscape before the excavation dump was created (Fig. 3).

Figure 3

Figure 4

The next figure (Fig. 4) clearly illustrates how immense the excavation dump was when it was created during excavation of the forum area in the late 19th and early 20th century. The next figure shows the excavation dump as it appears today, as a major man made topographic feature (Fig. 5).

Figure 5

The lab has used Autodesk Inc. 3D Studio MAX to generate renderings and animations of the DTM of the 35 square kilometer area of Corinth, some including the colonial and Roman grid, the Greek city walls and the area from Acrocorinth in the south to the the Gulf of Corinth in the north. These images have assisted in the re-creation of the landscape and are especially useful in demonstrating gross topographic features. A static 3D model of the landscape looking south from the Gulf of Corinth was created (Fig. 7), the lab then produced a 3D “fly through” of the environs surrounding Corinth. (Fig. 6)

Corinth 3D Fly Through - Figure 6

A further reconstruction of the ancient landscape was created by combining the three dimensional terrain with the location of the Roman colony, Greek city walls, and Roman land division.(Fig. 7).

Figure 7