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The archaeological site. Ayia Irini is an ancient site located on the north-west coast of Cyprus. The Swedish Cypriot Expedition (SCE) excavated the area in 1927 and interpreted it as a sanctuary. The periods identified by the archaeologists proved the continuity of worship from the 12th to 6th century BC, with a possible brief return to the site during the 1st century BC. Around the altar in a semi-circular position numerous terracottas were found, votive figurines and statues of various sizes and forms: humans, animals, chariots, minotaurs.
The collection. Most of the ca. 2000 objects, found in the sanctuary positioned in semicircles around the altar, represent male standing figures, in different sizes. Some of them are decorated with simple geometrical patterns in black, red and rarely also yellow. They wear helmets and headgears; some are holding an animal, swords or shields and others are playing instruments. The small human figurines, attributed to the Cypro-Archaic period (ca. 700-500 BC), are currently the object of study of a doctoral research.
Gjerstad, E., J. Lindros, E. Sjöqvist, A.Westholm, 1935. "The Swedish Cyprus Expedition. Finds and results of the excavations in Cyprus 1927-1931"
Why the Ayia Irini collection? Nowadays, the collection is divided into several museums. Half of the collection is conserved in Sweden. The majority is at the Medelhavsmuseet in Stockholm, together with the archival material of the excavation, and the rest is distributed over the Lund University Historical Museum, the Malmö Konstmuseum and the Uppsala University Museum (Gustavianum). The rest is conserved in Cyprus, at the Cyprus Museum. Giving the fragmentation of this collection and at the same time the importance of this site for Cypriot history and archaeology, the votive statuettes from Ayia Irini constitutes another important case study for GRAVITATE. Moreover, the doctoral research on the development and use of a 3D digital approach for the stylistic and typo-technological study of the small human figurines from Ayia Irini is a representative case study for the tasks the GRAVITATE project is addressing. The case study is optimal for testing the algorithms developed within the project: geometrical part, automatic feature extraction and generating descriptors for the geometry to allow comparison and search for similarities of 3D models.