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Grand Designs in Roman Britain

A digital exhibition building new insights into the life of Roman Britain 

While classical academic interest has predominantly focused on well-known properties in Italy, comparatively little attention has been devoted to Roman houses in Britain. The aim of this project was to create a digital exhibition exploring provincial decoration, using new technology to create a 3D model of the interior of a house. The team worked with one of the UK’s leading cultural institutions, the British Museum, to create the model based on new research undertaken with their collection of wall paintings, most of which had previously neither been photographed nor thoroughly recorded.

In carrying out their research in the Museum’s archives, the team identified an exciting new connection between some fragments of Roman painted plaster found in London (circa 1850) with peculiar decorative motifs, which had previously been thought to come from different sources. Using this as their starting point the team used them to reconstruct the interior of a Romano-British house in Londinium (Roman London), creating a 3D model. To create this model, the team reconstructed the wall decoration of the room these fragments used to adorn, using surviving examples from other Romano-British sites to fill in the missing parts. The ceiling and floor were also reconstructed using similar sites, while the room was furnished using renderings of Roman artefacts on display at the British Museum.

This reconstruction tests theories about the appearance of houses in Roman Britain, specifically their interior decoration, allowing us to better understand what they looked like and how they were experienced by their inhabitants. The digital reconstruction acts as an immersive experience which aims to challenge people’s perceptions about housing in different areas of the Roman world. This project offers new insights into the lives of the people of Roman Britain, and London specifically, by allowing visitors to step inside their houses.

Click here for the full 3D experience


Francesca Bologna - Department of Classics, King’s College London

Richard Hobbs - Weston Curator of Roman Britain, The British Museum

Mieke Roth - 3D creator, Sketchfab

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