Thanks to the generous support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RZ-51221), in September 2010, The Digital Sculpture Project in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and industrial sponsor Direct Dimensions digitized the portrait of the emperor Caligula in Richmond, Virginia. The purpose of the project was to shed new light on a statue that is considered one of the most important Roman portraits in an American collection. The research issues ranged from matters of conservation such as polychromy and the correct positioning of the head, to provenience and interpretation. An interdisciplinary research team addressed these questions. Throughout the project 3D models of the statue played an important role. Since the members of the team were scattered from Italy and Denmark to California, the availability of a 3D state model of the statue was an indispensable resource. As conservators and archaeologists developed new evidence or hypotheses about the original appearance of the statue, reconstruction and restoration models were found an effective means of expressing and debating new findings and ideas.
The resulting state model was finished in November, 2010. On the basis of this, three reconstruction models were completed in April and May of 2011. They show restorations of the damaged and lost parts of the marble, and they present different hypotheses of reconstruction of the polychromy, of which only slight traces remain.
The multiplication of model types and variations in this project shows how deeply embedded digital technology can become in the process of scholarly observation, discovery, and hypothesis formation.
Caligula Model Main Page
The Digital Sculpture Project is an activity of the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory.