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Final Report Summary - TELESTES (TELESTES. Musics, cults and rites of a Greek city in the West)

Project Overview
The TELESTES project combined archeological and musicological methods in the study of archaeological evidence concerning music and the context of its discovery. The application of archaeomusicological methods emphasises the need for analysing finds of musical instruments and ancient depictions of music in their archaeological context, rather than in isolation. This research field uses not only an historicist approach, by which it aims to investigate sound events of the past in relation to cultural and socio-political changes, but also an anthropological-religious approach. The latter allows us to investigate the relationship between musical phenomena, cults and ritual performances alongside funerary ideology. Furthermore, the study of archaeological evidence concerning music and the context of its discovery sheds light on the function of musical and dance performances in ancient societies, allowing us to reconstruct the role of music in the ancient world. Thus, one the main aims of archaeomusicology is to consider musical performances in ancient cultures as an essential component of worship and ritual.

The overall objective of the project was to analyse and reconstruct the historical context of music at Selinus, modern Selinunte, in relation to cultural and social changes. The written sources—both literary and epigraphic—and the visual and archaeological documentation were analysed in order to understand the role of Selinus in the field of music among the Western Greeks and in the Ancient Greek world. The research also aimed to analyse Selinuntine musical performances in sacred places and their relationship with the cults and rituals of this Western Greek city. For this reason, the function of music in the sacred sphere was analysed through the study of the materials of musical interest found in the sanctuaries. The study has been conducted on published and unpublished finds. This involved carrying out highly detailed work on newly discovered sacred areas and on known sacred buildings and temples, mapping the remains of musical interest, and studying their relationship to ritual performances. Musical and choral performances have also been examined, along with their connections to a variety of gods, including Demeter and Kore-Persephone, Hera, Apollo, Athena, Artemis, and Dionysus. I also studied the function of the South Building. Several elements at Selinunte suggest the South Building, one of the larger structures in the main urban sanctuary on the Acropolis, can be identified as an impressive theatral viewing area. As can be seen in other Greek cities, the architecture of the sanctuaries at Selinus may reflect the kind of spatial organisation that was necessary for both choral and instrumental practices, as well as for ritual performances.

I carried out research on the reconstruction of the historical development of music at Selinus in order to highlight the function of music in this Greek polis, including its possible relationship with both Greek and Punic and non-Greek culture. Thus, I carried out (not necessarily in chronological order) (i) the study of the depictions of musical performances in sculpture, painted pottery, and terracotta figurines, (ii) the analysis of musical instruments and sound objects, (iii) the analysis of written sources—literary and epigraphic—related to music in the Greek colony, which were collected and studied in relation to the protagonists of key political and social events and to the historical development of Selinus, (iv) the study of musical performance, space, and ritual in this Western Greek polis, and finally, (vi) the virtual reconstruction of the aulos found in Temple R. I provided updates on the TELESTES project research on a specially dedicated Facebook page: The results of this research have been presented at international conferences, and some have already been published.

A very important part of the TELESTES project was the study of an actual aulos that was found in two pieces in Temple R at Selinunte in the summer of 2012 during the IFA–NYU Selinunte Mission. The study of the musical instrument was relevant due to both for its organology and for the information offered by the analysis on the type of bone used in its production. The 3D virtual reconstruction of the aulos from Selinunte aimed to analyse its acoustic and morphological properties.
I have been engaged in rendering a virtual reconstruction of this aulos by several means. The first was that of a CT scan of the bone. Computed axial tomography represents is an accurate method for the visualisation and analysis of surfaces, volumes, internal structure, and the material density of the ancient musical instrument. The aim was to use 3D scanning for generating 3D models of ancient musical instruments (see 1. Attachment). I also aimed to develop specific tools suitable for processing the resulting 3D models. The tools we developed are divided into those involving the use of computational methods for processing the 3D models, and those involving the development of interactive tools aimed at engaging museum visitors in the exploration of musical instruments. Within this framework, information from the undamaged parts of the object was utilised in combination with literary and iconographic sources, in an attempt to re-create the appearance of the complete object and group various fragments together. The software used was GEOMAGIC DESIGN X with AVIZO, v. 9.0. The digital model of the aulos has been translated into two 3D artificial copies at the School of Science and Engineering at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and at the Officina 3D Lab at Reggio Emilia. The Officina 3D Lab also produced two video clips of the reconstruction of the aulos from Selinunte, and I produced a video of the musical instrument during the Institute of Fine Arts Archaological Mission at Selinunte. I used the video clips and the video for the presentation of the research results at the conferences and to the general public. In addition to a polymer copy, Pitano Perra, an Italian wind instrument maker, reconstructed two reed and bone copies of the aulos.

• This research has improved our knowledge of the social, political, and religious function of musical performances from the Archaic to the Hellenistic periods;
• This project offered an innovative research method in the study of ancient Greek music. The project created a field of comparative studies of archaeomusicological research.
• This research developed specific tools suitable for processing the resulting 3D models. It is also hoped that these results will establish a new framework, which future researchers can use to advance their knowledge of the application of 3D technology to the documentation of instruments.
• This study contributed towards overcoming the traditional methods of measuring ancient musical instruments through pictures and drawings, opening up new perspectives for the study of the materials, origins, diffusion and production process of musical instruments in antiquity.
• By bringing together archaeology, musicology, art and architectural history, anthropology, and digital technologies, I am continuing to explore a broader horizon of research concerning the reassessment of musical heritage and its historical context.
• The project established a new scholarly community in order to create and foster networks among scholars in Archaeomusicology globally. The Archaeomusicology Interest Group (AMIG) at the Archaeological Institute of America consists of members with an interest in the archaeological approach to music and dance performance.

Training through research:
From 01/03/2014 to 29/02/2016 (outgoing phase) at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, I developed (i) my expertise in Greek and Roman art and architecture and (ii) in research methods for archaeology. I also improved my professional training (iii) in arts management, arts marketing, and communication and coaching as well as (iv) in English language skills at New York University. As part of my training as an Marie Curie Researcher, I also took part in workshops in order to acquire the necessary skills for (v) managing European projects.

As a visiting scholar at the Institute of Fine Arts, I took part to these following activities:
- Colloquium “Approaches to Greek and Roman Art and Architecture”;
- Lectures “Archaic and Classical Greek Art”;
- Seminars on “Greek and Roman Art and Architecture”.

These courses explored critical questions about the nature, function, and reception of Greek art and architecture, pursuing a strong contextual approach and with particular emphasis on recent discoveries and new methodological approaches. The scope of my analysis was to explore key aspects of Greek art and architecture, and to assess the current state of the discipline by reviewing and subjecting to critical scrutiny its current larger theoretical implications, methodologies, and directions of research. At the end of each activity, I gave my reports to the Scientist in charge, Professor Clemente Marconi. Some research results was included in articles and in (forthcoming) books.

As an expert in archaeomusicology, I took part in the Excavation Mission of the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, under the direction of the Professor Marconi and in collaboration with the Soprintendenza per i Beni Culturali ed Ambientali of Trapani and the Archaeological Park of Selinunte (seasons 2014, 2015, and 2016). I was involved in all the phases of excavation and in the classification, restoration and preservation of archaeological evidences. The Professor Marconi presented the research results at the conference of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2016). The surveys were published on the Institute of Fine Arts Archaeological Journal (Issue, 5, 2016).

From 01/03/2016 to 28/02/2017 (ongoing phase) at the Department of Cultural Heritage at the University of Bologna, I increased (i) my expertise in “Linked Data for Cultural Heritage” and (ii) in “Acquiring and Post-Processing 3D Data in Anthropology and Archaeology”. I also improved my professional training (iii) in “Modellazione 3D per i Beni Culturali”. As part of my training as an Marie Curie Researcher, I also have participated in workshops in order to acquire the necessary skills for leading an (v) ERC Grant project.

The research results on “Linked Data for Cultural Heritage” has been presented to the AIB CILW 2016 Conference Revamping Information Resources: Granularity, Interoperability, and Data Integration, that took place at Roma (October, 2016). The director of the summer school "Linked Data for Cultural Heritage” and faculty member at the Department of Cultural Heritage at the University of Bologna, Professor Fiammetta Sabba, and myself took part to this event. Our research was submitted to the international peer-review journal «AIB studi. Rivista di biblioteconomia e scienze dell’informazione» (2017/1). The article "Communication Patterns for Archaeological Research Data: The Case of the Getty Vocabularies as Linked Open Data" will be published soon.

Transfer of knowledge:
The host institutions benefited from my expertise and intensive collaborations with archaeologists, musicologists, and art historians. It has been a stimulating experience to work at the New York University, where I was in contact with a new academic culture with different practices and procedures for students supervision. Thus, one of the projectʼs objectives has been to transfer to the Institute of Fine Arts the best practice and skills acquired during my previous research experience in the field of music, musicology, and musical iconography. I have been particularly involved in the supervision of PhD students and Post-Doc at the Institute of Fine Arts when their subjects lied within the area of this project. I transferred knowledge to the hosts, stemming from my experience and work in Greek art and archaeology, as well as in research management. At the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Bologna I organised an info day alongside a faculty member, Professor Luigi Canetti. The aim of this event was to explain the opportunity offered by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions to the PhD students and Post-Doc at the host institution.

The TELESTES project has been an opportunity for me to develop my training and research career by leading a scientific programme on the basis of new hypotheses, thanks to digital technology. I improved my competences in the use of post-processing software and techniques based on computerised models. At the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and at the Department of Cultural Heritage at the University of Bologna the researchers had various competences in these fields. Thus, I have been able to expand my skills and work in close cooperation with the 3D modellers. The goal of this training was to acquire new and different kinds of technologies and for 3D data acquisition, including: surface scans, X-ray CT, methods for post-processing surface data and segmenting/visualising image data from CT sources to create 3D digital models, and techniques for prototyping. These new skills have been important in the development of a project like TELESTES, and vital in my progression to becoming an expert researcher with an original profile and background, built on interdisciplinary expertise at the crossroads of cultural heritage and digital humanities. Thanks to this new expertise, I will be an effective team member of the American Archaeological Mission at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

The TELESTES project has been an important step in my personal career development strategy for securing a leading independent position. New skills in 3D modelling will be extremely useful for a longer-term research position in Italy, which has a long-standing tradition in cultural heritage studies and digital humanities. It is also a topic considered cutting edge by major European funding institutions. The TELESTES project will open up even greater possibilities for my future career development once I have consolidated the results of my research.

I won the ITWIIN 2016 prize in the category “Exceptionally Creative Woman” for my research. The ITWIIN prize is awarded by the Italian Association of Women Innovators and Inventors to Italian (or Italy resident) entrepreneurs, professionals, and researchers living and working in the national territory. The prize aims to promote invention and innovation in the working environment and in education in order to create opportunities for creative and innovative women, and to support the introduction of new products, services and processes. In addition, I have undergone and passed the selection process at the EUWIIN International Award, and I will take part at the 6th bi-annual EUWIIN International 2017 Awards.

Related information


Donatella Restani, (Associate Professsor)
Tel.: +39 0544936711
Fax: +390512086013


Life Sciences
Record Number: 199447 / Last updated on: 2017-06-20
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