Winner of the 2020 Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History, sponsored by the American Historical Association (AHA).
Honorable Mention for the 2024 ACLS Open Access Book Prize, sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies.
Winner of the 2022 Award for Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology, sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America.
Utilizing 3D technologies, Constructing the Sacred addresses ancient ritual landscape from a unique perspective to examine development at the complex, long-lived archaeological site of Saqqara, Egypt. Sullivan focuses on how changes in the built and natural environment affected burial rituals at the temple due to changes in visibility. Flipping the top-down view prevalent in archeology to a more human-centered perspective puts the focus on the dynamic evolution of an ancient site that is typically viewed as static.
Sullivan considers not just individual buildings, but recontextualizes built spaces within the larger ancient landscape, engaging in materially focused investigations of how monuments shape community memories and a culturally specific sense of place, thus incorporating the qualitative aspects of human perception.
3D models promise to have great potential for research in a broad range of artifact- and object-based research, yet current technology does not allow for a robust environment of engaging with complex objects that change over time. This publication is among the first to push the boundaries to include interactive 3D models that can be navigated both spatially and temporally.
About the author
Elaine A. Sullivan is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
"Unimaginable in any other format, this publication is a one-stop shop for our attempt to untangle the significance of Saqqara over time."
—Peter Der Manuelian, Harvard University
"A huge boon to Egyptian archaeology, it will take the field decades to exhaust the use of this project."
—Laurel Bestock, Brown University
"Elaine A. Sullivan's Constructing the Sacred: Visibility and Ritual Landscape at the Egyptian Necropolis of Saqqara is a unique addition to the study of royal and elite sacred landscape production in the ancient world.... In bringing together GIS, history, anthropology, and archaeology virtually, Constructing the Sacred is a good example of the potential for collaboration to open new vistas on centuries-old historical questions."
—Joseph M. Snyder, The Middle Ground Journal