Skip to main content Accessibility help

Light in a Neolithic dwelling: Building 1 at Koutroulou Magoula (Greece)

  • Constantinos Papadopoulos (a1), Yannis Hamilakis (a2) and Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika (a3)


Light has been considered in various archaeological contexts from the Bronze Age to post-Classical periods, but largely in association with religion and ritual. The importance of light in the daily routines of a Neolithic dwelling is the context for this investigation, which employs 3D computer visualisation to test light levels in a variety of different architectural structures and weather conditions. The results reveal how opportunities for using domestic space for specific tasks changed at particular times of day. Light may have operated not simply in a functional sense but also to divide domestic space and provide a distinction between public and private areas.



Hide All
Antonakaki, T. 2007. Lighting and spatial structure in religious architecture: a comparative study of a Byzantine church and an Early Ottoman mosque in the city of Thessaloniki, in A.S. Kubat (ed.) Proceedings of the 6th International Space Syntax Symposium: 1–14. Istanbul: ITU Faculty of Architecture. Available at: (accessed 28 April 2015).
Bailey, D.W. 2005. Prehistoric figurines. Representation and corporeality in the Neolithic. London: Routledge.
Blomberg, M. & Henriksson, G.. 2011. The evidence from Knossos on the Minoan Calendar. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 11 (1): 5968.
Bosch, E. 2012. (accessed 28 April 2015).
Boutsikas, E. 2009. Placing Greek temples: an archaeoastronomical study of the orientation of ancient Greek religious structures. Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture 21: 416.
Boutsikas, E. & Ruggles, C.. 2011. Temples, stars, and ritual landscapes: the potential for archaeoastronomy in ancient Greece. American Journal of Archaeology 115: 5568.
Bradley, R. 1989. Darkness and light in the design of megalith tombs. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 8: 251–59.
Callet, P. & Dumazet, S.. 2010. Natural lighting, gilts and polychromy of Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, in A. Artusi, M. Joly-Parvex, G. Lucet, A. Ribes & D. Pitzalis (ed.) Conference Proceedings, 11th VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage: 63–70. Aire-la-Ville: Eurographics Association.
Chalmers, A. 2002. Very realistic graphics for visualising archaeological site reconstructions, in SCCG 02 Proceedings of the 18th Spring Conference on Computer Graphics: 7–12. New York: ACM.
Christopoulos, M., Karakantza, E. & Levaniouk, O. (ed.). 2010. Light and darkness in ancient Greek myth and religion. Plymouth: Lexington Books.
Dawson, P. & Levy, R.. 2005. Using computer modelling and virtual reality to explore the ideological dimensions of Thule whalebone architecture in Arctic Canada. Internet Archaeology 18.
Dawson, P., Levy, R., Gardner, D. & Walls, M.. 2007. Simulating the behaviour of light inside arctic dwellings: implications for assessing the role of vision in task performance. World Archaeology 39: 1735.
Devlin, K. & Chalmers, A.. 2001. Realistic visualisation of the Pompeii frescoes, in A. Chalmers & V. Lalioti (ed.) AFRIGRAPH 2001 Conference Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Computer Graphics, Virtual Reality and Visualisation: 43–47. New York: ACM.
Devlin, K., Chalmers, A. & Brown, D.. 2002. Predictive lighting and perception in archaeological representations, in Conference Proceedings, UNESCO World Heritage in the Digital Age, 30th Anniversary Digital Congress. Available at: (accessed 28 April 2015).
Gallis, K.J. 1985. A late Neolithic foundation offering from Thessaly. Antiquity 59: 2029.×00056532
Goodison, L. 2001. From tholos tomb to throne room: perceptions of the sun in Minoan ritual, in Laffineur, R. & Hägg, R. (ed.) Aegaeum 22. Potnia deities and religion in the Aegean Bronze Age: 7688. Liège: Université de Liège.
Hamilakis, Y. 2013. Archaeology and the senses: human experience, memory, and affect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hamilakis, Y. & Kyparissi-Apostolika, N., in collaboration with T. Loughlin, V. Tsamis, J. Cole, C. Papadopoulos & N. Zorzin. 2012. Koutroulou Magoula in central Greece: from the Neolithic to the present. Antiquity Project Gallery 86. Available at: (accessed 28 April 2015).
Happa, J., Artussi, A., Debattista, K., Bashford-Rogers, K., Hulusić, T.V. & Chalmers, A.. 2009. The virtual reconstruction and daylight illumination of the Panagia Angeloktisti, in K. Debattista, C. Perlingieri, D. Pitzalis & S. Spina (ed.) VAST 2009: the 10th International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology, and Cultural Heritage: 49–56. Aire-la-Ville: Eurographics Association.
IESNA . 2000. The IESNA lighting handbook. Reference & application (9th edition). New York: The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.
Ingold, T. 2000. The perception of the environment. London: Routledge.
Irawan, P., Ferwerda, J.A. & Marschner, S.R.. 2005. Perceptually based tone mapping of high dynamic range image streams, in K. Bala & P. Dutré (ed.) EGSR ‘05 Proceedings of the Sixteenth Eurographics Conference on Rendering Techniques: 231–42. Aire-la-Ville: Eurographics Association.
Jones, A.M. 2012. Prehistoric materialities: becoming material in prehistoric Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Keates, S. 2002. Flashing blade: copper, colour and luminosity in north Italian Copper Age society, in Jones, A. & MacGregor, G. (ed.) Colouring the past: the significance of colour in archaeological research: 109–25. Oxford: Berg.
Kyparissi-Apostolika, N. 2006. Koutroulou Magoula sto Neo Monastiri (Voria Phthiotida): I apokalypsi mias neas, “astikis” architektonikis, neolithikis egkatastasis’, in To Archaiologiko Ergo Thessalias kai Stereas Elladas 1: 607–17. Volos: University of Thessaly.
Ledda, P., Paulo Santos, L. & Chalmers, A.. 2004. A local model of eye adaptation for high dynamic range images, in AFRIGRAPH ‘04 Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Computer Graphics, Virtual Reality, Visualisation and Interaction in Africa: 151–60. New York: ACM.
Nesbitt, C. 2012. Shaping the sacred: light and the experience of worship in middle Byzantine churches. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 36: 139–60.
Palyvou, K. 2005. Akrotiri Thera: an architecture of affluence 3,500 years old. Philadelphia (PA): Instap Academic Press.
Papadopoulos, C. 2010. Illuminating the burials in the Aegean Bronze Age: natural and artificial light in a mortuary context, in Wilson, A.T. (ed.) CAA 2009, UK Chapter of Computer Applications & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology: 6774 (British Archaeological Reports British series 2182). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Papadopoulos, C. 2013. (accessed 28 April 2015).
Papadopoulos, C. & Earl, G.. 2009. Structural and lighting models for the Minoan cemetery at Phourni, Crete, in K. Debattista, C. Perlingieri, D. Pitzalis & S. Spina (ed.) Proceedings of the 10th VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage: 57–64. Aire-la-Ville: Eurographics Association.
Papadopoulos, C. & Earl, G. 2014. Formal three-dimensional computational analyses of archaeological spaces, in Paliou, E., Lieberwirth, U. & Polla, S. (ed.) Spatial analysis and social spaces: interdisciplinary approaches to the interpretation of prehistoric built environments: 135–65. Boston (MA): De Gruyter. Available at: (accessed 28 April 2015).
Papadopoulos, C. & Sakellarakis, Y.. 2013. Virtual windows to the past: reconstructing the ‘ceramics workshop’ at Zominthos, Crete, in Melero, J., Cano, P. & Revelles, J. (ed.) CAA 2010 Proceedings of Computer Applications & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology: 4754. (British Archaeological Reports British series 2949). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Parisinou, E. 2000. The light of the gods. The role of light in Archaic and Classical Greek cult. London: Duckworth.
Potamianos, I. 2000. To fos sti Byzantini ekklisia. Thessaloniki: University Studio.
Skeates, R. 2010. An archaeology of the senses. Prehistoric Malta. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sundstedt, V., Chalmers, A. & Martinez, P.. 2004. High fidelity reconstruction of the ancient Egyptian temple of Kalabsha. AFRIGRAPH ‘04 Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Computer Graphics, Virtual Reality, Visualisation and Interaction in Africa, 107–13. New York: ACM.
Weightman, B.A. 1996. Sacred landscapes and the phenomenon of light. Geographical Review 86: 5971.
Zányi, E. 2007. High dynamic range display of authentically illuminated Byzantine art from Cyprus, in D. Arnold, F. Niccolucci & A. Chalmers (ed.) VAST ‘07 Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Intelligent Cultural Heritage: 87–92. Aire-la-Ville: Eurographics Association.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Light in a Neolithic dwelling: Building 1 at Koutroulou Magoula (Greece)

  • Constantinos Papadopoulos (a1), Yannis Hamilakis (a2) and Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika (a3)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.