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Visualizing Votive Practice: Exploring Limestone and Terracotta Sculpture from Athienou-Malloura through 3D Models

This project publishes the 3D models and associated data from the figural votive sculpture dedicated at the rural sanctuary at Athienou-Malloura, Cyprus.

Project Abstract

This collaborative digital project serves as the primary, stable repository for a selection of high-resolution 3D models of votive sculpture excavated by Davidson College’s Athienou Archaeological Project (AAP) at the rural sanctuary at Athienou-Malloura in Cyprus. This publication of 3D models of limestone and terracotta statuary comprises photorealistic 3D models (produced by structured light scanning), their associated metadata, as well as formal and contextual data and complements the simultaneous publication of the open-access, digital monograph, Visualizing Votive Practice: Exploring Limestone and Terracotta Sculpture from Athienou-Malloura through 3D Models (The Digital Press at University of North Dakota). Visualizing Votive Practice includes chapters on AAP and the Malloura sanctuary, the significance of limestone and terracotta dedications on Cyprus, an interactive 3D PDF artifact catalogue, and a discussion of the methods and technology employed. A third platform, SketchFab, presents these same 3D models with condensed information about their context, but offers a photorealistic viewing experience as well as the ability to view all models together in thumbnail view. Due to the limitations of text space in SketchFab, readers are directed to either the digital monograph or Open Context for complete archaeological context for each model and citation. Through this multi-pronged approach to publishing 3D data, AAP builds upon the rich tradition of archaeological catalogues by adding 3D and linked open data to this time-honored format.

Since 1990, AAP has undertaken systematic excavation and pedestrian survey in the Malloura Valley located in the fertile Mesoaria plain in south-central Cyprus. Excavations at the site of Athienou-Malloura have unearthed religious, settlement, industrial, and funerary contexts, with impressive material remains that demonstrate the nature and extent of human activity across the rural landscape of the Malloura Valley. Exploitation of the natural landscape for resource extraction and lithic production has been traced back to the Aceramic Neolithic (9500 – 5800 BCE) based on material recovered from five sites identified by survey. More permanent use of the valley does not begin until the end of the eighth century BCE, when ceramic evidence suggests that the sanctuary was founded and began its more than 1000-year history (in use well into the Roman period) as a locus for religious activity in the area. Finally, both excavation and survey have mapped a significant settlement history beginning at least by the first century BCE and continuing into the modern era (with the exception of a break during the period of the Arab conflict, 647–965 CE). The settlement evidence is complemented by funerary remains in various locations around the valley that feature both rock and earth cut tombs, including some quite impressive chamber tombs, dating from the CA to the Roman periods; there are also tombs as late as the Venetian period. In particular, the excavations of the Malloura sanctuary have revealed an extensive history of use from the eighth century BCE to the fourth century CE. The artifact assemblage includes ceramic vessels and lamps, coins, animal bones, incense burners, and other cult objects. One of the largest classes of material found in the sanctuary are the over to 4,500 fragments of limestone and terracotta sculpture, a selection of which forms the core of this publication. The sculptures, which depict human, divine, and animal figures that range in size from several centimeters to over-life-size, are one of the primary sources for understanding the cult at Malloura.


The core of this project are the 3D data derived from structured light scanning a selection of statuary (limestone and terracotta) from Athienou-Malloura. The data contain 50 digital 3D models of these artifacts that include human, animal, and divine representations. Each artifact contains metadata that includes standard dimensions and archaeological provenience, as well as commentary on their broader context in Cypriot sculpture. The 3D models are visualized using 3DHop, are available for download in .obj format, and contain associated paradata. Use the below Sculptural Types as one way to guide your use of these data.

Potential Applications of the Data for Reuse:

This collection of 3D models from Athienou-Malloura is representative of the common types and styles for limestone and terracotta sculpture in Cyprus. This material provides comparanda for other collections that lack secure provenance and/or associated archaeological data, but also for scholarly research on Cypriot archaeology and the visual culture of the ancient Mediterranean. The models also constitute a virtual teaching collection for archaeological or art historical approaches to sculpture and, more generally, three-dimensional art. Additionally, since they can be viewed either through 3DHop or downloaded, one could conduct more detailed visual analyses.

Current Disposition of Artifacts:

The objects from which these data are derived are currently housed in the Larnaka District Archaeological Museum or the Kallinikeio Municipal Museum of Athienou. The location of each object is listed in its associated metadata.

Sculptural Types:

Related Publications:

Averett, E. W.; Gordon, J. M.; and Counts, D. B., eds.

  • 2016. Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: The Potential of Digital Archaeology. Grand Forks: Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

Averett, E. W., and Counts, D. B.

  • Forthcoming. Scaling Religious Practice from Landscape to Artifact: Digital Approaches to Ancient Cyprus. In Introduction to Digital Humanities: Research Methods for the Study of Religion, ed. K. Petersen and C. Cantwell. Berlin: W. de Gruyter.

Counts, D. B.

  • 2004. Art and Religion in the Cypriote Mesaoria: The View from Athienou-Malloura. CCEC 34: 173–90.
  • 1998. Contributions to the Study of Cypriote Sculpture: Limestone Votives from Athienou-Malloura. PhD dissertation, Brown University, Providence.

Counts, D. B.; Averett, E. W.; and Garstki, K. J.

  • 2016. 3D Artifact Modeling and Customized Structured Light Scanning at Athienou-Malloura, Cyprus. Antiquity 349: 206–18.

Counts, D. B., and Toumazou, M. K.

  • 2006. New Light on the Iconography of Bes in Archaic Cyprus. Pp. 598–602 in Proceedings of the XVIth International Congress of Classical Archaeology Boston, August 23–26, 2003, Common Ground: Archaeology, Art, Science, and Humanities, by C. C. Mattusch, A. A. Donohue, and A. Brauer. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • 2003. Artemis at Athienou-Malloura. CCEC 33: 237–51.

Toumazou, M. K.

  • 1993. NEH Fellow Reports. CAARI News 10: 7.
  • 1991. Excavations at Athienou-Malloura. Annual Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, 54–55.

Toumazou, M. K.; Counts, D. B.; Averett, E. W.; Gordon, J.; and Kardulias, P. N.

  • 2015. Shedding Light on the Cypriot Rural Landscape: Investigations of the Athienou Archaeological Project in the Malloura Valley, Cyprus, 2011–2013. JFA 40: 204–20.

Toumazou, M. K.; Kardulias, P. N.; and Counts, D. B., eds.

  • 2011. Crossroads and Boundaries: The Archaeology of Past and Present in the Malloura Valley, Cyprus. Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 65. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research.

Toumazou, M. K.; Kardulias, P. N.; and Yerkes, R.

  • 1998. Athienou Archaeological Project: Investigations in the Malloura Valley, Cyprus. 1990–95. JFA 25: 163–82.
  • 1996. Interdisciplinary Research in Central Cyprus: The 1995 Season of the Athienou Archaeological Project. Old World Archaeology Newsletter 20: 1–8.
  • 1992. Athienou Archaeological Project 1991: The Second Season of Investigations at Athienou-Malloura, Cyprus. AJA 96: 352.
Suggested Citation

Derek B. Counts, Erin Walcek Averett, Kevin Garstki, Michael Toumazou. (2020) "Visualizing Votive Practice: Exploring Limestone and Terracotta Sculpture from Athienou-Malloura through 3D Models". Released: 2020-07-28. Open Context. <> DOI:

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