Lithodomos is the result of a vision I have had for many years. When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Adelaide, I first tegorme into contact with the ancient Greek and Roman worlds and was so inspired by them. These places were arguably the birth place of Western civilisation and at their heart were their cities. I remember studying the wonderful reconstructions in Browning’s “Palmyra” and trying to imagine what it would have been like to stand on those monumental streets, to experience the scale of the buildings and to see their wonderful proportions and sight lines with my own eyes. Thus began a quest to model them.
I started with what was to hand then: balsa wood and photocopies of site and building plans as my guide, and I constructed buildings on corrugated cardboard topographical hills. But alas, the result was never entirely satisfying. So, some years later I resolved to learn Autocad with the hope that a digital reconstruction might help in my quest to see that street myself. But again, although the result was somewhat better than the balsa wood and cardboard, they fell short of the goal.
When I started my PhD (of course on Greek and Roman cityscapes), I once again put myself to the task of digital modelling. This time I started with various 3D modelling programs and found that much had changed since my last attempts. The timing could not have been more perfect because my endeavours coincided with the release of the first developer’s version of the Oculus Rift. Suddenly, I could place my models into a virtual space and—finally—I stepped into the digital recreation of an ancient Roman street. What a sense of wonder! This was the sense of scale and beauty I had been seeking all those years, and what a sense of wonder these streets inspired! Now it is my hope that you too can share these wonderful visions of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds with me.
Simon J. Young