The end and the beginning in the Temple of Heliopolis

Heliopolis 2 Vanessa Liebler for the i3mainz, CC BY SA 4.0

This project builds on the research data management of the preceding project in Heliopolis. The i3mainz provides assistance to the Heliopolis project in the implementation and expansion of the data management strategy.


The project, located in the temple compound of the ancient Egyptian sun god in Cairo’s Matariya district, continues the work of its predecessor, The cult center of the sun god in Heliopolis (Egypt). The size of the temple and the rising water table, along with steadily advancing urban development in the immediate vicinity of the site, prevent a complete stratigraphic investigation of the sun temple. However, the reconstruction of the uppermost and therefore the last monuments in the area of the temple dating from the 4th century B.C. that has not yet been built over appears realistic. The excavations planned by the University of Leipzig in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities as part of the project are likely to provide answers to the question of the final state of construction of the sun temple at Matariya before it was abandoned in favor of other city-building projects, especially in Alexandria, and it saw its monuments carted away. In addition to the excavations, the project is also dedicated to collecting evidence of the temple’s continued existence in the realm of ideas and memory in Roman and Arabic cultural contexts, right through to the European Renaissance. The parts of the project conducted by Mainz build on the results and methods of the preceding project. The state-of-the-art collection and processing of digital datasets is ensured by the research data management devised in Mainz, which will be implemented in the new project, working with the Leipzig team. For the upcoming work in the magazines and the architectural history evaluations, the i3mainz will expand the data management strategy and adapt it for publication of the data in Heidelberg’s Propylaeum repository.


The successfully performed knowledge transfer and transfer of geodata into a geoinformation system (GIS) will be continued in regular (GIS) workshops held by the i3mainz. In the magazine of the Ministry of Matariya, elements of the late period, including column drums or tambours, are to be documented, along with other finds from the excavations at Heliopolis. For this work under special time and spatial conditions, the i3mainz is developing a documentation concept that ensures a rapid but quality-assured three-dimensional recording of the objects using the structure from motion method (SfM). Two research visits to Cairo are planned for the practical implementation of the concept. To analyze the 3D models, especially the architectural elements, Gigamesh, a software developed at i3mainz, will be tested in close coordination with the building researcher, determining the requirements for further development of the software.