Vol. XIV, No. 1
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Spring, 2001

A Model By Any Other Name

Harrison Eiteljorg, II

When writing or speaking about CAD, I have routinely used the term model rather than drawing. As I have often explained, a model is a complex representation of a three-dimensional reality from which any number of individual drawings -- whether plans or three-dimensional views -- can be produced. Thus, the term model is to be preferred.

I was recently asked to define the term model more carefully, when its meaning seemed unclear to my colleague and CSA Advisory Board member, Dr. Judith Binder. We were discussing the CSA Propylaea Project and the model of the Propylaea. Ms. Binder pointed out that the term seemed to imply a single model -- a model of a structure or a reconstructed structure but not a model with all the elements of a structure in its many incarnations over time and with as many reconstructions for any given phase as scholars might propose. It is that latter, more complex model, of course, that I mean to indicate with the term model - a model of all parts of a structure (or archaeological site), including various phases, multiple (possibly competing) reconstructions, and even stones in different positions and/or configurations depending on the building phase. This complex sense of the word model is important to a discussion of CAD, because the term - or, rather, my intended meaning of the term - conveys much of the potential value of a CAD model.

Since this is a matter of some importance to a full understanding of the value of CAD, I have taken the question of the appropriate term very seriously and have tried to find an alternate. Searches through thesauri have been in vain, and I write here in the hope that readers will suggest alternates.

Diachronic model has been suggested, but that implies a necessary chronological element to the model, and some models might be quite specific as to time but include many different reconstructions. Complex model might be used, but that would seem only to imply complexity of the parts or their fit with one another, not any necessary complexity of competing phases and reconstructions. Multi-model and omni-model have also been suggested, but created terms seem rather artificial. Readers' suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

H. Eiteljorg, II

For other Newsletter articles concerning applications of CAD modeling in archaeology and architectural history, consult the Subject index.

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