About Surgical Excavation

An archaeological site with a long history of habitation is usually a complex and hard to read situation even for specialists. The Surgical Excavation project aims to show how far the investigation of such a site can go today, using the possibilities offered by several disciplines like Archaeology, Topography, Chemistry, Physics and Informatics, and thus to contribute to the identification and reconstruction of the site’s different phases. Through collaboration between the above disciplines, archaeological research is able to advance the study of the “anatomy” of the excavation findings, movable and immovable, in order to reveal the technical and artistic achievements of the past and then communicate this scientific information in an understandable way to the public.

The objective of Surgical Excavation is to propose a complete solution for documenting cultural goods related to archaeological sites. The developed system supports the collection, extraction, management and demonstration of information about the excavation process, as well as all derived knowledge, based on the coexistence of different scientific methodologies and tools. The system makes use of advanced 3D technologies and innovative non-destructive methods of elemental analysis, offering easy access to all the data and metadata via a user-friendly web environment that is also acting as an educational tool.

This system was first applied to the Aristotle University excavation at Dion, Pieria. Specifically, the investigation focused on the excavation sites of the “House of Epigenes” and the “Late-Antique House”. During the project, the following tasks took place:

  • Progressive excavation and documentation. A comprehensive recording of archaeological information was attempted in parallel with all excavation work, starting from the topographic documentation of the site and the various excavation areas and reaching up to the in situ recording of building remains and findings. All these have produced material both in two and three dimensions, depending on the specific needs and requirements. The instruments used include various image capturing devices, different spatial and spectral resolution sensors, 3D scanners and suitable software.
  • Non-destructive analysis and multispectral measurements of movable excavation findings made by using modern techniques, such as micro Raman spectroscopy and acoustic microscopy. These analyses have provided a wealth of information on the materials of the objects, their construction methods and ancient technologies.
  • Creation of an integrated system for the promotion and management of three-dimensional, multi-layered information for the digital representation of the excavation.
  • Building of an online application that provides access to the excavation data and relevant material, categorizing information thematically and presenting it to the public and specialized scientists adapted accordingly.

The digital recording of the excavation and especially its leading product, “space-time” three-dimensional modelling, makes it possible to monitor the whole process at every stage. The results of the analyses performed on archaeological findings offer essential information not only about individual objects from Dion but also homogeneous artefacts in general, opening new areas of research in the field of Archaeometry. Through this website, which was created for the promotion of the project results, any researcher obtains easy access to a systematic record of all the archaeological information, with all that means for the promotion of archaeological research. Meanwhile, the casual visitor can take a virtual tour accompanied by rich visual material, in order to understand the excavation process and the multilevel interdisciplinary work carried out in this context.


Ormylia Foundation
63071, Ormylia Chalkidiki, Greece








Hellenic Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports