Archaeological Illustration
List of sites that I have worked for:
INSTAP SCEC Projects on Crete:
Alatzomouri Pefka (Pacheia Ammos Industrial Area)
Alatzomouri Rock Shelter (Pacheia Ammos Rock Shelter)
Ayia Fotia
Chryssi island
Dragonada, Dionysades
Pelekita Cave
Greek Archaeological Service and Foreign Schools Projects (collaborations and independent projects) on Crete and elsewhere in Greece:
The Small Cycladic Islands Project
Aphrodite’s Kephali
Asphendou Rock Shelter
Inatos Cave
Khavania Archaeological Project
Knossos, Anetakis plot
Knossos Palace, Kouloures
Megalos Peristeres Cave
Mamaloukas Peak Sanctuary
Mochlos island (Hellenistic)
Mochlos island (Minoan)
Petras Anadiksi
Petras Cemetery
Psiera island Shipwreck
Pyrniatikos Pyrgos
Vasiliki Kephala
Ayia Irini
Kea Archaeological Survey
Mainland Greece
Leontari Cave
Drawing pottery
Drawing architectural remains from Petras (courtesy of M. Tsipopoulou)
Pelekita Drawing site architecture
Since 2012 I have been professionally employed as an archaeological illustrator. I have worked for over 30 projects throughout Greece, traveling often to the museums and warehouses where the archaeological material is stored. I have illustrated all types of material and from the Stone Age to Modern period, although the majority of my experience is with Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery and small finds. I also make plans of excavation trenches, trench stratigraphy (scarp drawings), and create maps, charts, and reconstructions. I have also taught a number of friends and colleagues how to make their own technical drawings of pottery.
In my position as Assistant Archaeological Illustrator for the Study Center and Member of the Publication Team at the Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center for East Crete (INSTAP SCEC), I made technical drawings of small finds and assisted with the publication process of INSTAP SCEC excavations by laying out plates and creating maps and plans. My drawings were also used in a number of articles and presentations. Recent INSTAP Press publications featuring my work include: Aphrodite’s Kephali: An Early Minoan I Defensive Site in Eastern Crete, Alatzomouri Pefka, The Dams and Water Management Systems of Minoan Pseira, and Bramiana. Salvaging Information from A Destroyed Minoan Settlement.
Why Illustration?
People outside of archaeology often ask me why do we still make drawings of artifacts and not just use photographs. It is important to know that archaeological illustration is a technical drawing, not a fine art drawing. The archaeologist is not interested in fine art. They are interested in depicting specific aspects of an artifact. For instance, the archaeologist needs to see the profile and section of a ceramic vessel because the shapes and thickness of walls change over time. This information cannot be conveyed in a photograph. Similarly, sometimes the decoration is not well-preserved and does not reproduce well in a photograph. The archaeological drawing more clearly shows the motifs, and can also reconstruct them.
Basic tools of the trade, typical set-up
Basic tools of the trade
Photography and new approaches like photogrammetry and 3-D scanning are helpful tools and can be used to produce similar drawings, but these processes often require as much time as by hand but also more expensive equipment (computers, software, and storage). I use them only when I am pressured for time to illustrate a highly decorated vessel.
Archaeological illustrations are still made by hand, using a pencil, graph paper, ruler, calipers, diameter chart and a contour gauge. In the past the images were than painstakingly retraced on velum using radiograph pens, and if a mistake was made, it often meant starting all over. Nowadays, the pencil drawings are scanned and digitally traced using computer programs (such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop). While this digitization can be done with a mouse, most illustrators use a tablet.
Finding the stance of a sherd
Digital inking
The other important thing to know about archaeological illustration as a technical, not artistic type drawing is that a basic set of standards and conventions are used. The specifics of the conventions vary between illustrators and excavation projects. For instance, some archaeologists want the profiles on the left, but others prefer them on the right side. Other conventions include how to indicate hand sections, or if wheel marks should be indicated. The use of conventions facilitates the conversion of an object from color to a black and white image. The lack of color is another reason why drawings must be used rather than photography. A grey tone, lines, or dots are used to represent different colors, as most scholarly volumes do not publish all artifacts in full color. I adapt my drawing style and convention to the needs of the archaeologist for which I am working.
Maps, diagrams, etc.
Miscellaneous small finds
I would like to thank the scholars who gave me permission to use images that I made for their projects on this website, friends and colleagues who took pictures of me in action, and all those who encouraged and helped me over the years.
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