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Supporting Open Data policies: 3D model of the so-called tomb of Ḥairan

By Rubina Raja and Olympia Bobou.

Drawing of the plan of the tomb of ?airan, from Ingholt’s excavation diary of 1924 (Photo: Palmyra Portrait Project, Ingholt Archives, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen).
Watercolour of male figure in the tomb of ?airan, made by Charles Christensen (after H. Ingholt, “Quelques fresques récemment découvertes à Palmyre”, Acta Archaeologica 3, 1932, 1–2, courtesy of Acta Archaeologica).

By Rubina Raja and Olympia Bobou

Between 1924 and 1928, Harald Ingholt conducted several excavation campaigns in Palmyra, focusing mostly on the underground tombs (hypogea) of the south-west necropolis. One of those is the so-called tomb of Ḥairan, founded in 106/7 CE, and in use for at least three generations.  

The digitisation of and the commentary on Ingholt’s excavation diaries and archival sheets (Archive Archaeology) have made clear the abundant wealth of information contained within, and the need to study it in detail, and make it accessible across borders and disciplines. Furthermore, the material provides an excellent platform for implementing new technologies to support further study, but also accessibility.

The Palmyra Portrait Project team headed by Rubina Raja used the archival information on the so-called tomb of Ḥairan in order to produce, together with Scott McAvoy, University of California, Digital Media Lab, San Diego Library, a 3D model of the tomb. McAvoy built the digital reconstruction of the tomb.


The model was created in Blender 3D through a combination of methods: parametric recreation and camera perspective matching in Trimble Sketchup, texture overlay, and additions of 3D objects created or modified in Blender 3D. The information form the diaries and archival sheets, as well as information from other tombs used as references, was added in the form of annotations.

This work reaffirms the Palmyra Portrait Project’s and UrbNet’s interdisciplinarity and their commitment to an Open Data agenda in the humanities.



Archive Archaeology. https://projects.au.dk/archivearcheology/

Raja, R. 2019. Harald Ingholt and Palmyra: A Danish archaeologist and his work at Palmyra, in: Nielsen, A.M. Raja, R. (eds.), The Road to Palmyra. Copenhagen: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, pp. 41–64.

Raja, R., Sørensen, A.H. 2015. Harald Ingholt & Palmyra. Aarhus: Fællestrykkeriet Aarhus Universitet.

Raja, R., Yon, J-B. forthcoming. The Excavation Diaries of Harald Ingholt: The Palmyra Expeditions, Studies in Palmyrene Archaeology and History. Turnhout: Brepols.