How to Sound Out the Past?

Sebastian Schwesinger et al.:
How to Sound Out the Past?
Developing Virtual Simulations for Historical Research

Screenshot_Forum_SimulationScreenshot from virtual demonstration “Public Speech on Forum Romanum” (credits Susanne Muth, Dirk Mariaschk)

Workshop by the project
Analog Storage Media II: Auralisation of Ancient Spaces
at the Cluster of Excellence Image Knowledge Gestaltung
& Digital Forum Romanum (led by Susanne Muth)
at Winckelmann-Institut & Cluster of Excellence TOPOI
at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


Room KUA2 16.4.11
Department of Arts and Cultural Studies
University of Copenhagen
Karen Blixensvej 1



Project pages

Analog Storage Media II: Auralisation of Ancient Spaces



Digital Forum Romanum

Project team

Susanne Muth (Classical Archaeology)
Christian Kassung (Cultural History & Theory)
Holger Schulze (Sound Studies)
Stefan Weinzierl (Audio Communication)

Christoph Böhm (Audio Communication)
Erika Holter (Classical Archaeology)
Una Ulrike Schäfer (3D Modelling)
Sebastian Schwesinger (Cultural History & Theory)


Models or visualisations in antiquity studies have long served the limited purpose of illustrating a textually developed argument. With the advent of virtual digital technology this paradigm might be challenged. Models can become operative, creating a spatial and sensual impression that opens up new research possibilities and approaches that address a processual, practical and mundane understanding of ancient public culture. The workshop presents the pilot studies of public speeches and assemblies, first, on the Forum Romanum during the late Republic based on the scientific reconstructions of the project Digital Forum Romanum and, second, on the Pnyx in Classical Athens. These experimental simulations focus on the auditory domain as a yet undervalued parameter of political communication in past oral cultures. By foregrounding pragmatic limitations to shape public opinion, such as speech intelligibility, different explanations for changes in architecture and places of speaker’s platforms might be derived (see Muth 2014, 2015; Muth/Schulze 2014). We would like to invite you to experience these virtual environments yourself and to discuss with us the potentials and restrictions of simulating the ancient past for experimental historical research. Please note that the simulations are, by now, unfortunately only available in German. Their presentation and discussion will be in English.

The case studies have been carried out by the research group »Analog Storage Media II: Auralisation of Ancient Spaces« at the Cluster of Excellence »Image Knowledge Gestaltung« at Humboldt-University Berlin. The workshop is organised as part of a fellowship of one of the research group’s members, Sebastian Schwesinger, at the IKK under the patronage of the project’s Associate Investigator Holger Schulze, professor of musicology at the KU.


Muth, S. (2014): “Historische Dimensionen des gebauten Raums: Das Forum Romanum als Fallbespiel.” In: Dally, O. et. al (eds.) Medien der Geschichte: Antikes Griechenland und Rom, Berlin: de Gruyter.

Muth, S./Schulze, H. (2014): “Wissensformen des Raums: die schmutzigen Details des Forum Romanum – Archäologie & Sound Studies im Dialog.” CZ, March 10.

Muth, S. (2015): “Das Forum Romanum: Roms antikes Zentrum neu verstehen.” Antike Welt 46(6).