Abstract: Passage and Perception in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, Samothrace

Lecturer: Bonna Wescoat

Pilgrims came to the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on the remote island of Samothrace in the northern Aegean to be initiated into the mysteries, a secret rite whose blessings included salvation at sea and the promise to become a better and more pious person. The initiates never broke their vow of secrecy.  However, excavations within the sanctuary have revealed much about the place of the rites, which included an extraordinary complex of buildings set within the sacred cleft in the earth where the mountain meets the sea on the north shore of the island.

Using three-dimensional digital modeling to recreate the landscape of the sanctuary as well as the position and design of the buildings, we can explore the path of the initiate with fresh eyes.  Following the pilgrim’s progress through a series of videos created from the model helps to show the way the Samothracians crafted both the topography and the architecture to shape their remarkable sacred space and enhance the experience of initiation.

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