Ancient restorations: computer-based structural approach for the identification and reinterpretation of the Medracen’s constructive sequence




archaeological heritage, ancient restoration, structural analysis, building chronology, Medracen, Royal mausoleum of Numidia


This paper addresses the importance of a structural approach for identifying and interpreting building chronology, as well as for the establishment of historical stratigraphy. Through structural analyses, carried out on the oldest extant royal mausoleum in North Africa, the Medracen (4th-3rd century BC), located in eastern Algeria, it has been possible to identify building sequences and structural characteristics; a reinterpretation of its constructive sequence within a specific historical context was also suggested. A static linear Finite Element Method (FEM) analysis was performed on a simplified 3D model conceived with solid elements to assess the structural behaviour of the structure under the effect of its self-weight and to identify, consequently, its construction sequence. The equilibrium approach was effective in identifying the structure’s geometry. Results show that Medracen’s ancient restoration was a strengthening intervention strategy and had a symbolic aim related to the function of the funerary building. Restoration works, consisting of repairing specific parts of the building and adding an external cladding, as a whole architectural entity, contributed to reducing the effect of tensile stress, therefore, stabilizing the inner core. Besides, this same action was a means for the Numidian elite to transform an ancient monumental burial (sepulchrum) into a monument (monumentum) with cultural significance likely to convey socio-political messages relating to power and sovereignty. Therefore, we can speak of an “evolutionary restoration” that reflects the ambitions of the Numidian elite to become part of the Mediterranean orbit.


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How to Cite

Amokrane, L., Kassab, T., & Monjo-Carrio, J. (2022). Ancient restorations: computer-based structural approach for the identification and reinterpretation of the Medracen’s constructive sequence. Virtual Archaeology Review, 13(27), 33–48.