How To Sound Out The Past? – University of Copenhagen

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How To Sound Out The Past?

Developing Virtual Simulations for Historical Research

Workshop / Sound Studies Lab (Sebastian Schwesinger, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).

Project team

  • Christoph Böhm (Audio Communication)
  • Erika Holter (Classical Archaeology)
  • Una Ulrike Schäfer (3D Modelling)
  • Sebastian Schwesinger (Cultural History & Theory)


Models or visualisations in antiquity studies have long served the limited purpose of illustrating a textually developed argument. With the advent of virtual digital technology this paradigm might be challenged. Models can become operative, creating a spatial and sensual impression that opens up new research possibilities and approaches that address a processual, practical and mundane understanding of ancient public culture.

The workshop presents the pilot studies of public speeches and assemblies on the Forum Romanum during the late Republic and on the Pnyx in Classical Athens. These experimental simulations focus on the auditory domain as a yet undervalued parameter of political communication in past oral cultures. By foregrounding pragmatic limitations to shape public opinion, such as speech intelligibility, different explanations for changes in architecture and places of speaker’s platforms might be derived.

We would like to invite you to experience these virtual environments yourself and to discuss with us the potentials and restrictions of simulating the ancient past for experimental historical research.

Please note that the simulations are, by now, unfortunately only available in German. Their presentation and discussion will be in English.

The case studies have been carried out by the research group "Analog Storage Media II: Auralisation of Ancient Spaces" at the Cluster of Excellence "Image Knowledge Gestaltung" at Humboldt-University Berlin.

The workshop is organised as part of a fellowship of one of the research group’s members, Sebastian Schwesinger, at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies (IKK) under the patronage of the project’s Associate Investigator Holger Schulze, professor of musicology at the University of Copenhagen.

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