Nysa was city in Caria (near present-day Sultanhisar in western Turkey). The city was distinguished by its dramatic topography, perched over a gorge on the slopes of Mt.Messogis overlooking the Maeander valley. Strabo (14.1.43), who studied in Nysa’s gymnasium, called it a “double city”: three bridges connected the two halves. The stadium, an impressive piece of engineering, was suspended over the gorge, with the water channeled through a tunnel below.

I visited the site in 2010 and recently took up the project again, working on a model of the city in order to support an investigation (to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Roman Archaeology by Diane Favro) into the city grid and its transformation into a Roman “armature”, a term coined by W.L.MacDonald to describe the dynamic way the Romans used architecture to shape the experience of moving through a city.

The scene was put together in CityEngine using the rules from my Roman City Ruleset.  The stoas, stadium, streets, bridges, basilica, shops, and temple are procedurally modeled. The theater, baths, library, nymphaeum, and bouleterion were modeled by other team members in Rhino. The terrain was created from a DEM generated from the archaeological survey contours in ArcMap, and modified in CityEngine to fit the ancient elevations. In particular, the area in front of the theater, built up as an artificial terrace over a tunnel by the Romans, has eroded considerably and was subject to a process of interpretative “reconstruction” as much as any of the actual buildings.

The scene was rendered in Vue. The models were left white, rather than colored realistically, in order to underscore the abstract/schematic nature of the visualization.

View of the artificial terrace in front of the theater; a market basilica and shops part of a Roman agora can be seen at right
View of the tunnel carrying the water under the Theater terrace
Aerial view towards west; the street extending over the ravine west of the city led to the temples of Pluto and Kore at Acharaca
Looking west from the Agora, the stoa of the Bouleterion in view
View looking south from the second bridge
The eastern baths were perched over the stadium, casting a long shadow
View looking south from the theater