History of the Project

Over the past several years, Professor Ahmet Cakmak, of Princeton University's Department of Civil Engineering and Operations Research has undertaken the structural analysis, under earthquake loads, of the Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia is a major museum (formerly church and mosque) in Istanbul, Turkey, built by the Emperor Justinian during the 6th century AD. Professor Cakmak has sought to determine the susceptibility of the structure, specifically its large dome and arches, to collapse due to the earthquakes that often strike that part of the world.

As an extension of that work into the architectural realm, he and Professor Mark of the Civil Engineering department offered a class in the spring of 1995 with the goal of studying Byzantine structures from a structural and an art-historical perspective. Over spring break, the class traveled to Istanbul to continue their studies, where they were generously hosted by Bogazici University. The university accommodated the class with lodging in the President's guest house as well as the resources of its Kandilli Institute. One of the goals set forth in the class was for students to construct three-dimensional models of specific Byzantine structures utilizing the computer drafting software AutoCAD. This was the first step towards a long term goal of creating a full model of the topography of ancient Constantinople, with models of many Byzantine buildings in place. Over the summer of 1995, several buildings were modeled in AutoCAD, and then texture mapped.

During the fall semester of the 1995 - 1996 school year, another class was offered in conjunction with the project, taught this time by Professor Cakmak and Professor Curcic of the Art and Archeology Department. The class included both engineers and humanities majors, and sought again to study both the structural and the artistic aspects of Byzantine structures. During Princeton's fall break, the class traveled to Istanbul where they were again hosted by Bogazici University and worked with Civil Engineering and Earthquake Engineering students to study various structures within the city. In the spring of 1996 as independent work, four Princeton students continued the project, using the Pro/ENGINEER software package to create new models. That work carried on through the summer of 1996 when another trip to Istanbul was made, focusing on the texture mapping of the new models.

Many pictures in this site were copied
from a tour of Istanbul, maintained by ITU in Istanbul.

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