Greek graffiti is illuminated by technology

“Alcazar Block”, an ancient hewn stone of the VI centuryand Art. BC, could join, among other remnants, the confidential shelves of the archeological repository of Marseilles. This is without taking into account the hundreds of graffiti engraved on its surface, revealing a real “archeology in archeology”, which could reveal precious elements of the history of our Marseille ancestors.

Discovered during the excavations of the Alcazar, which took place between 1999 and 2000 in Marseilles on the site of the current library, was located the block of the same name. outside the ancient city, in its immediate vicinity, on a site that served as a clay quarry. At this point we found a pit filled with several blocks. This set of stones could belong to the same monument of the VI centuryand century, which was destroyed “Says Mark Byron, archaeologist at Inrap (National Institute of Archaeological Research) and former head of excavations. Among these blocks, one of them, almost two meters long, aroused the interest of archaeologists as soon as it was removed from the site. ” We noticed that there was a lot of graffiti on it. Among the figures that stand out, we find in particular two large rowing boats from Marseilles, typical of the VI centuryand century, used by Marseille sailors who founded Marseilles “- describes Marc Boiron. ” There is also at least one symbol represented by the head in the helmet, another, which may be the second head or griffin, as well as letters written in Greek, the meaning of which is still unknown. “, Emphasizes the archaeologist.

Smart scan

From this tangle of engravings that are difficult to read with the naked eye, it is difficult to decipher the size and accurately estimate the smallest elements. Then, at the initiative of the Museum of the History of Marseilles, a technological innovation developed startup Marseille Mercurio, specializing in expert visualization. ” Our know-how is to digitize objects says Fabrice Martinez, general manager of Mercurio. In the case of the Alcazar unit, RTI technology was used, [Imagerie par transformation de reflectance, Ndlr], which allows you to change the angle of light around the object, revealing all the details of its surface “, – he explains.

After digitizing the unit with a light dome device, the intelligent processing of the data made a small revolution: to be able to reproduce on its screen the gesture of an archaeologist trying to illuminate his flashlight. the smallest detail of the subject. Working tool which also allows the researcher to take notes directly on the image, redraw what he saw adds Fabrice Martinez. A find in the case of the Alcazar boulder, ” the surface of which is covered with overlapping markings in all directions ┬╗To also develop a mediation tool for conducting a virtual tour for the general public available on the Internet.

Now it remains to conduct research that will explain the meaning of these engravings. Although graffiti was common in ancient times, ” they have the ability to be very accurate : the person who painted knows these boats well so that he can also depict them remarks Mark Boiron. A symbolic image of a naval battle? Voluntary act, the origin of which is still insufficiently studied? The mobilization of a team of ten scientists should make it possible to see things more clearly, especially since several graffiti were found on other blocks. To check ” if scenes continue from block to block “, Marc Boiron expects to study a hundred stones restore the original monument and go further, hopefully in interpretations “.