The aim of the ‘A Puzzle in 4D’ project is to provide long-term preservation for the rich archaeological resources of the excavations at Tell el Daba in Egypt. Digital and non-digital excavation data will be enriched with metadata and prepared for long-term archiving and open-access online publication.


VR Reconstruction, Virtual Archaeology, VR Sites, Digital Reconstruction, Aegypt,

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The overall aim of the A Puzzle in 4D project is the digital long-term preservation of the knowledge and information from the Austrian excavations at Tell el Daba by preparing them for long-term archiving based on national and international standards and in accordance with open-access policies.1 This project is designed as a case study for the development of a repository for archaeological data at the ÖAW ACDH (Austrian Academy of SciencesAustrian Center for Digital Humanities).

Tell el Daba (TD) is an archaeological site situated in the eastern Nile delta regions of Egypt revealing archaeological evidence from the 12th to 18th dynasties (early second millennium BC)2. Excavations reveal that there was a wealthy society with contacts to many parts of the eastern Mediterranean. A unique connection to Minoan culture has been shown through thousands of fragments of Minoan-style wall paintings discovered in one of the TD palaces, depicting e.g. scenes with bulls and bull-leapers which have become a trademark of the site.

The main motivation for the visualisation of the finds of the TD F/I palace is to share and disseminate the current state of knowledge of existing and reconstructed architectural structures and their interpretation. In order to reach a wider public, it was decided to choose a format suitable for the presentation over the internet, which also allows a presentation of the final content on mobile devices as well as cinematic formats providing image sequences which could be used on and offline. So-called ‘3D Real-time Environments’ and ‘walk–through’ allow users to interact with a 3D environment to discover the reconstructed site on their own pace studying the included archaeological information and experiencing architectural spaces from a first-person view.

In a first glance a Story Map was created to explain the history of the site while displaying the bespoken artifacts, buildings and finds in a geogreferenced view on the map. (link)

A online -phase model viewer allows accsess to the reconstructed model displaying different steps in time and delivers a textual explaination of the various elements of the building complex. Additional tools like allow to section the model in order to get an inside view of the complex. (link)

Another online 3d application allows the user to inspect the model from groundview, strawling through the different rooms and gardens of the palace, thus getting the information about rooms and objects while passing them by. A navigational map allows to port the viewer to sensitive locations in the area and take produce a quicker walkthrough. At last one can view the virtual reconstruction from a birds eye view and simulate the yearly flooding of the nile in this area.  (link)

In a summary this reconstruction served as a starting point which will be extendet in the coming years, enriching the application with state of the art technology and implementing the latest research results, keeping it u to date and attractive for the broader public.

Project Site


  1. E. Aspöck – K. Kopetzky – B. Horejs – M. Bietak – M. Kucera – W. Neubauer, A Puzzle in 4D. Digital Preservation and Reconstruction of an Egyptian Palace. Proceedings of the Digital Heritage International Congress held in Granada, 28 September–2 October 2015, doi: 10.1109/DigitalHeritage.2015.7419596.
  2. M. Bietak, Tell el-Dabca V. Ein Friedhofsbezirk der Mittleren Bronzezeitkultur mit Totentempel und Siedlungsschichten, Teil I, UZK 8 (Vienna 1991).
    E. Czerny, Tell el-Dabca IX. Eine Plansiedlung des frühen Mittleren Reiches, UZK 15 (Vienna 1999).
    E. Czerny, Tell el-Dabca XII. „Der Mund der beiden Wege“. Die Siedlung und der Tempelbezirk des Mittleren Reiches von Ezbet Ruschdi, 2 vols., UZK 38 (Vienna 2015).
    Hein – P. Janosi, Tell el-Dabca, XI: Areal A/V, Siedlungsrelikte der späten Hyksoszeit, UZK 21 (Vienna 2004).
    Forstner-Müller, Tell el-Dabca XVI. Die Gräber des Areals A/II von Tell el-Dabca, UZK 28 (Vienna 2008).
    V. Müller, Tell el-Dabca XVII. Opferdeponierungen in der Hyksoshauptstadt Auaris (Tell el-Dabca) vom späten Mittleren Reich bis zum frühen Neuen Reich, 2 vols., UZK 29 (Vienna 2008).
    R. Schiestl, Tell el-Dabca XVIII. Die Palastnekropole von Tell el-Dabca. Die Gräber des Areals F/I der Straten d/2 und d/1, UZK 30 (Vienna 2009).
  3. M. Bietak, Avaris. The Capital of the Hyksos (London 1996).
    M. Bietak – J. Dorner – P. Janosi, Ausgrabungen in dem Palastbezirk von Avaris. Vorbericht Tell el-Dabca/cEzbet Helmi 1993-2000, Ägypten und Levante 11, 2001, 27–119.
    M. Bietak – N. Math – V. Müller, Report on the Excavation of a Hyksos Palace at Tell el-Dabca/Avaris, Ägipten und Levante 22/23, 2012/2013, 17–53.
    M. Bietak – I. Forstner-Müller, Ausgrabung eines Palastbezirkes der Tuthmosidenzeit bei cEzbet Helmi/Tell el-Dabca. Vorbericht für Herbst 2004 und Frühjahr 2005, Ägypten und Levante 15, 2006, 65–100.


E. Aspöck – K. Kopetzky – B. Horejs – M. Bietak – M. Kucera – W. Neubauer,