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Public Lecture: Deciphering the Engraved Crosses in the Holy Sepulcher - Saint Helena Chapel

Event Details:

  • Date:          Monday, 11 September 2023
  • Time:         Starts: 16:00
  • Venue:       Fresnel Auditorium, Athalassa Campus, The Cyprus Institute.
                       This is a hybrid event, so you are also welcome to join us online on The Cyprus Institute YouTube channel and our Facebook event page.
  • Speakers:  See below


Within the framework of APAC Labs / STARC research in the study Mediterranean Cultural Landscapes and Digital CUltural Heritage, this Public Lecture will provide exciting new material and approaches to the documentation and analysis of the graffiti of crosses in the Holy Sepulchure in Jerusalem. The event builds on the long collaboration of STARC and the Cyprus Institute with the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Hadassah Academic College (HAC) in the use of digital technologies and anaytical methods to study the past. The study of historic graffiti is an important APAC Labs research topic supported by RIF projects like GRAFMEDIA and DIGIGRAF which aim to raise awareness, to document and valorize the historic graffiti heritage of the EMME region.




Within the panorama of historic graffiti, a unicum is represented by the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, mostly by Saint Helena chapel.

This holy location presents an intriguing Riddle in the form of thousands of engraved crosses covering the walls, stairways, and apses, surrounding inscriptions and coat of arms.

Herein lie several questions: Who created them? When were they created? Why were they created and finally, how?

The lecture attempts to suggest answers to some of these questions. Following a brief historical overview, we study the engraved crosses, heralds, texts, and symbols in an attempt to identify, categorize and differentiate them.  This is aided by the use of advanced digital imaging technologies, explained in detail.

The research proposes that these crosses are by no means random in nature and the work of masses of pilgrims, as previously suggested, but rather the carefully crafted work of but a few accomplished stone masons.  Current ongoing work proposes the use of emerging AI and machine learning techniques as an aid in further understanding the methodologies and distribution of patterns and styles.

Stemming from this research, a wider question emerges, namely whether these crosses may at all be categorized as graffiti, and wider still, how do we define graffiti and what are its social, historical, and location-based boundaries.

Finally, we suggest directions in which this research will be developed, specifically pertaining to locations in and around the Holy city of Jerusalem.


About the Speakers

Amit Re'emAmit Re’em - Senior Archaeologist - Jerusalem regional archeologist - Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA)

Dr. Amit Re'em is a senior archaeologist in the The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). He has been exploring Jerusalem for nearly 30 years and serves as the Jerusalem regional Archeologist of the IAA.
He has conducted dozens of excavations in Jerusalem including King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, the Muristan, the Holy Sepulchre, sites on the Mount of Olives, Lion’s Gate, and published numerous articles on ancient Jerusalem.

His main interest is Jerusalem during the days of the Crusader. He wrote his PHD on the "Crusader Burial customs in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem".


Moshe CaineProfessor Moshe Caine – Head of The Jerusalem Institute for Research and Digital Documentation of Cultural Heritage - Hadassah Academic College

Prof. Moshe Caine is a graduate of the Hebrew University Jerusalem - Philosophy & Sociology (1977), the Harrow College of Technology & Art London – Photography (1980), and Coventry Polytechnic - Electronic Imaging (1989). His work reflects the evolving decades of visual media spanning Analogue and Digital photography, Video, Interactive Multimedia, VR, AR, Multispectral Imaging, Photogrammetry, 3D scanning, RTI, Digital Publishing, UI, UX, and other imaging technologies. He has specialized in digital solutions for cultural heritage preservation institutions and has a long experience working with museums and educational institutions.

Since 1981 he has taught in both undergraduate and graduate programs, served as head of the department of Interactive Communications and chaired the department of Photographic Communication at the Hadassah Academic College.


Doron AltaratzDr. Doron Altaratz – Senior Researcher – The Jerusalem Institute for Research and Digital Documentation of Cultural Heritage - Hadassah Academic College

Dr. Doron Altaratz is an academic researcher and educator with a strong practical background in the creative and visual industries. His research interests include (but are not limited to) visual information, media critique, and computational practices of imaging and documentation in the service of cultural heritage.
Doron's creative work also manifests in diverse media of choice: computational photography, interactive installations, physical computing, and Mixed reality.

He holds a Master's degree in interactive media from New York University and a Ph.D. in media and communications from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.





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DIGIGRAF (DIGItizing GRAFfiti: Methodology Definition for the Study of Cypriot Historic Graffiti) is an Excellence Hubs project co-financed by the Republic of Cyprus and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in the frame of the Operational Programme “ΘΑλΕΙΑ” 2021-2027 (project identifier EXCELLENCE/0421/0540).

DIGIGRAF builds on APAC Labs and STARC's mission to pursue key inquiries, research problems and innovative approaches in art history, archaeology and cultural heritage, through the application of advanced science and technology, with a particular focus on historic graffiti. The project establishes good practices for the documentation and study of the historic graffiti of Cyprus through the application of new and innovative digital technologies. DIGIGRAF makes a major contribution to the field and the state-of-the-art, releasing the first open-access platform for historic graffiti of Cyprus hosted in the DIOPTRA Digital Library of the Cyprus Institute.



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The event will be in English and the event is open to the public.

This is a hybrid event, so you are welcome to join us online on The Cyprus Institute YouTube channel and our Facebook event page.
Images and/or recordings of our open public events may be used by The Cyprus Institute for dissemination purposes including print and digital media such as websites, press-releases, social media, and live streaming.


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