A re-evaluation of the concept of type in coroplastic studies based on 3D shape analysis of terracotta figurines from Ayia Irini, Cyprus

Valentina Vassallo, Sorin Hermon, Andreas Scalas, Michela Mortara, Michela Spagnuolo

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Coroplastic studies refer to the study of terracotta figurines mostly through an art history ap-proach, where types and classes are defined through stylistic and aesthetic considerations. Such an approach is highly subjective and is based on the knowledge of the researcher interacting with the subject material. Moreover, the lack of agreed upon criteria for classification and the lack of quantitative attributes that would define one or another type make any comparative research a futile exercise. The problem becomes even more severe when the objects under investigation are dispersed in various museums in different countries and their initial description has been performed several decades ago within the traditional framework described above. The aim of this research is to propose an alternative method for the investigation of terracotta figurines, but which can be extended to other types of material culture as well, based on the identification and analysis of a set of features objectively describing the objects under investigation. Such features are based on descriptors meaningful for the characterization of the objects’ shape, their mode of manufacture and techniques of production and which derive from a 3D geometry analysis and surface characterization. Some of these descriptors are: straightness, circularity, thickness, eccentricity, multiple transversal slices, etc. semi-automatically extracted from the 3D model. The case study consists of a sample of terracotta figurines from Ayia Irini, Cyprus. They are part of a larger assemblage of ca. 2000 statues with various shapes and sizes, excavated at the beginning of the 20th century.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Apr
EventCAA 2019: Check Object Integrity - Kraków, Poland
Duration: 2019 Apr 232019 Apr 27
Conference number: 47


ConferenceCAA 2019
Other47th Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology annual conference
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Archaeology


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