University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Interpreting the evolution of the Roman villa of Sa Mesquida (Mallorca, Balearic Islands) through VR and DEM models
Bartomeu Vallori-Márquez, Catalina Mas-Florit, Patricia A. Murrieta-Flores, Miguel Ángel Cau Ontiveros

Last modified: 2011-12-18


The Balearic Islands (Mallorca and Menorca) were conquered by Rome in 123 B.C. through a campaign lead by the consul Quintus Cæcilius Metellus. Written sources inform of the foundation of two cities in Mallorca, Palma (nowadays capital of the island) and Pollentia (Alcúdia). With the Roman occupation, a progressive new organisation and exploitation of the countryside was also witnessed. However, evidence of ancient Roman villas is still very scarce, and the first examples are dated from the Augustan era (27 BC-14 AD). The villa of Sa Mesquida, on the western coast of Mallorca, is one of the few examples documented and partially excavated in the 80s and 90s of the 20th century. The remains preserved belong to a structure, beginning in the Augustan era, composed of a series of rooms organised around a courtyard, a pottery kiln for coarse ceramics and a cistern that was used later as a rubbish dump in Late Antiquity.

A recent project developed in 2010 provided new data concerning stratigraphy, architectural evolution and the activities that were developed during its history. This new set of data allowed us to create a preliminary hypothesis on the architectural form, distribution and evolution of the building. This hypothesis will be represented in a Virtual Reality model of the building, which is part of the interpretative process. New questions emerged during the construction of the model, and fresh hypotheses have been addressed as a result of this process.

Furthermore, the environment of the archaeological site has been changed through history. The first main alteration has been a draining work that affected the wetland beside the coast. Touristic development provoked an extensive urbanisation of the area that destroyed part of the site, and the preserved structures remained surrounded by modern buildings. The ancient landscape was very different than what we can see today, and it is important to take into account the visibility that could be witnessed from the site towards the wetlands, the sea and other archaeological sites of the area. To achieve a realistic approach, the villa virtual reality model was incorporated to a terrain model of the surrounding geography. In future research we will explore the possible impact of the location of the villa on the landscape.


Roman archaeology; Roman architecture; Virtual reality; Rural archaeology