Skip to content
Archaeological plan of ancient Athens with statuary modeled in 3D on top of the plan. Image Credit: Sheila Dillon
Archaeological plan of ancient Athens with statuary modeled in 3D on top of the plan. Image Credit: Sheila Dillon

Digital Athens


The Digital Athens project began in the fall of 2014. The initial aim of this project was to produce a comprehensive digital map in ArcGIS of the archaeological remains of ancient Athens uncovered both in systematic and rescue excavations. The project began as a collaborative endeavor, and involved undergraduate and graduate students at Duke as well as colleagues based in Athens at the American College of Greece (Deree) and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). The Duke team focused on digitizing and geo-referencing excavation plans and historical maps, and plotting the locations of burials, wells, workshops, public buildings, and sacred structures. The visualization of how the city changed over time was a major aim of this project. In addition to the research cluster in the Wired! Lab, the Digital Athens project has also involved two iterations of the course, The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Athens, which was team-taught virtually between Duke and Deree in both 2014 and 2017 and included a spring break trip for the Duke students to Athens.

The next phase of the project, which began in the summer of 2020, is focused on the history of excavations in the Athenian Agora, which started in the 1930s under the auspices of the ASCSA. In this phase, we aim to visualize the houses, businesses, churches, and families that comprised the early 20th-century neighborhood known as Vrysaki, which occupied the site of the Athenian Agora and was destroyed to make way for the excavations. The aim is to build a content-rich website, with historical photographs and 3D models of the now-absent buildings, that will tell the history of this once vibrant area of the city that was one of the most densely populated neighborhoods of Athens.

Hear Timothy Shea (PhD in Art History ’18) talk about his experience with the Wired! Lab and the Digital Athens project.

Banner Image: Screen shot of the SketchUp model of portrait statues along the Dromos on Delos, ca. 100 BC. Model developed by Elizabeth Baltes and Sheila Dillon

Current Collaborators

Dr. Leda Costaki, Research Archivist, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Bruce Hartzler, IT Specialist, Agora Excavations, American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Past Collaborators

Julian Salazar, Trinity ‘15
Alexandra Smith, Trinity ‘15
Alina Taalman, MFA/EDA ‘15
Casey Tissue, Trinity ‘16
Anna Vivian, Trinity ‘16


Books & Book Chapters

  • Baltes, Elizabeth P. “Itinerant Statues? The Portrait Landscape of the Athenian Agora.” In Greek Art In Context: Archaeological and Art Historical Perspective, edited by Diana Rodríguez Perez. New York: Routledge, 2017.


  • Shea, Timothy D. “Contextualizing Classical Attic Tombstones: Using GIS to Reconstruct the Ancient Cemeteries of Athens.” Graduate Student Symposium, Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies, Duke University. Spring 2015.
  • Shea, Timothy D. “Digitizing Athens: Reconstructing the Urban Topography of Athens with GIS.” SECAC (formerly Southeastern College Art Conference) Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh. Refereed. Fall 2015.
  • Shea, Timothy D. “Mapping Ancient Athens in a Classroom: The Digital Athens Project at Duke University.” Mapping the Past: GIS Approaches to Ancient History, Ancient World Mapping Center, University of Carolina at Chapel Hill. Refereed. Spring 2016.
  • Shea, Timothy D. “Mapping Immigrant Communities through Their Tombstones in Classical Athens,” Department of Classics, Dartmouth College. October 2018.
  • Shea, Timothy D. “The Dead among the Living: Mapping Classical Attic Tombstones.” Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting 2016, San Francisco. January 2016
  • Shea, Timothy D. “The Digital Athens Project.” Digital Humanities Sandbox Chat, Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University. Spring 2015.
  • Shea, Timothy D.”Digital Athens: Archaeology meets ArcGIS.” Conversations in the Digital Humanities Lecture Series, Perkins Library, Duke University. Fall 2015.