Digital Restoration for Widespread Fruition of the Samnite Chamber Tombs

Digital Restoration for Widespread Fruition of the Samnite Chamber Tombs

Adriana Rossi (Università Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7555-9.ch016


The aim of the chapter was to design a sensory experience that would enable contemporary users to appreciate artifacts that are remote in terms of time, space, and contemporary cultural sensibility. The chamber tombs, a glorious example of Samnite civilization (ninth through third century B.C.) offered a unique possibility to pursue this objective thanks to the peculiarities of the architectural paintings which paratactically decorate the chamber tomb walls. Rather than “freeze” the observers in a service space, the paintings seem to encourage them to explore the chamber and synaesthetically interact with the built environment. From a contemporary perspective, these pictorial dynamics epitomize the emerging paradigm of real and virtual space organization where the real and the virtual combine and guide users towards interactive fruition. The developments in range-based and image-based techniques have made the surveying procedures more rapid and the representations more attractive. Remote fruition has become more flexible thanks to the advent of information and communication technologies.
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Investigating the possibility of moving in a panorama and experiencing real life like emotions was the main aim of the research project on the interactive documentation of the analyzed chamber tombs. This tomb typology was quite commonplace amongst the Samnites at the end of the VI century BC.

The tombs were excavated at the end of the 1800s along the southern feet of Monte Massico in an area that included Ager Falernus and extended to the so called Vetta estate (Benassai, 2001, pp.127-129). The tombs discovered in the area where the Macello Comunale of Santa Maria Capua Vetere is currently situated, had been plundered of their furnishings and artifacts and partially destroyed. De-contextualized from their original habitat, they were disassembled and rebuilt by anastylosis near the Campania amphitheatre.

Figure 1.

a) Destruction (January 2012) of the Samnite chamber tombs which were later reconstructed by anastylosis in the archaeological area of S.M. Capua Vetere; b) Archaeological site of Santa Maria Capua Vetere (Italy). Source: photo by author.


Despite the safeguard of the archaeological site, the tombs were repeatedly vandalized and, today, they are practically in ruins, so that it is quite difficult even for the most erudite visitors to appreciate the artistic importance of the artifacts, the civilization that produced them and the grandeur of the Samnites, before their submission to the Roman empire (Titus Livius, 753 B.C. Ab Urbe Condita, II,17; III,91; VII,1).

However, knowledge and appreciation of heritage are key factors in safeguard policies in the sense that communities protect what they value to the extent that they value it (Montella, 2009). Therefore it is essential to find ways of attracting the interest of communities and the financial resources needed to protect and enhance heritage. The enhancement of the visitors’ sensory experience is a particularly appealing solution in that it meets the expectations of contemporary users (Cerquetti, 2015) and is in perfect alignment with the international definition of “Heritage” (ICOM, Statutes, adopted by the 22nd General Assembly in Vienna, Austria on August 24th, 2007).

The ICOM statutes broaden the scope of conservation and within the constraints of protection requirements allow to satisfy consumer needs.

The search engines, which have become globalized cultural operators as a result of their evolution, are contributing to the fulfillment of these needs (Craik, 2017). The generated synergies have prompted educational and cultural institutions to collaborate with internet web sites. All stakeholders have a vested interest: the search engines upgrade their repositories while the other partners promote dissemination and enhancement of heritage (Cho, et al.2001; Alsina, 2010).

Investment policy objectives include meeting the demand of culture consumers (Irace 2014, I, p.173) especially those who are not satisfied with simply viewing artifacts from the past in a physical museum but desire fruition of Heritage. Further incentives to cooperate in the enhancement of heritage have been provided by mobile technologies (ITC). These allow to manipulate and exchange data in digital format. As a result, there has been a shift from the cataloguing of heritage to the establishment of unified and flexible processes that promote dissemination thanks to the creation of animated environments and interactive user spaces.

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