Saint-Trophime




Saint-Trophime

Site Information

Country: France
State: Arles, Provence
Location: 43° 40' 36" N - 4° 37' 40" E
Field Documentation Date(s): May 15th, 2009
Project Release Date(s): February 6th, 2010
Time Range: 1150 CE - Present
Era: Medieval
Culture: French Catholic
Site Authority: Archdiocese of Aix and Arles
Heritage Listing: UNESCO World Heritage Site
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Photo-textured 3D point cloud of the Gothic architecture in the cloister

Site Description

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Located in the ancient Roman/Provencal city of Arles, the Romanesque church of Saint-Trophime was an important medieval place of pilgrimage for those destined to travel the famed Way of Saint James. The church remains a prominent destination in the Provencal region of France today, but Arles was also an ancient Roman town of great importance (King Vol. 3 68-73). St. Trophime is meticulously formal in its attentiveness to classical architectural form and detail, a precision that is exemplified in its aesthetic beauty. This conservative style is appropriate given the lengthy history of Arles, which boasts an extensive collection of standing classical-period monuments from its years as an important Roman center and port on the Rhone River. The church, itself, was considered a cathedral from the 12th-19th centuries and showcases the standard architectural features of Medieval Roman Catholic cathedrals: an apse, transept, nave, bell tower, and Gothic choir. Its interior design is relatively modest, typical among pilgrimage churches of the period (O'Reilly 399, Cook 56).

The church of St. Trophime stands at the eastern edge of the modern Place de la République, and possesses a magnificently detailed façade. The west portal is particularly ornate and features a depiction of the Last Judgment that is considered a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture (Sullivan 1-3, Cook 68-80). St. Trophime's attached monastic cloister is an even more remarkable combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles, the result of construction works over the course of several centuries. Art historians widely consider this cloister to be one of the most beautiful in France (Conant 255, Sullivan 1).

The cloister's northern gallery is almost purely Romanesque, while the eastern gallery contains some Gothic features. Both galleries are structurally defined by the simple trusses that are a hallmark of Romanesque architecture. In these galleries, piers featuring bas-relief sculptures and full-length figures alternate with triple sets of paired columns (Sullivan 8). These columns are topped with ornately-carved capitals depicting various stories from the Old and New Testaments (Cook, 83). The carved column piers themselves also depict biblical and historical events, including the stoning of St. Stephen and Christ meeting the disciples, who are depicted here as pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela along the Route of Saint James. Both of these reliefs are located in the northern gallery (Schneider 400, Cook 84).

The southern and western galleries are built primarily in the Gothic style based around cross-ribbed vaults intersected by pointed arches, all resting on colonnettes topped by foliated capitals (Sullivan 8). As with the Romanesque northern and eastern galleries, the carvings found here depict scenes from the biblical testaments, though in a decidedly Gothic form (Sullivan 8, Cook 83-94). Carvings on the foliated capitals in the southern gallery are devoted to events in the life of Saint Trophimus himself, and provide a remarkable document to this towering Provencal personage of the 3rd century CE (O'Reilly 399-401).
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History

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Saint-Trophime is an important pilgrimage church that serves as a starting point for the Via Tolosa, stretching between Arles and Tou¬louse and, finally, extending to Santiago de Compostela along the Route of St. James. This route remains one of the greatest pilgrimage routes and for over 1000 years individuals have traversed more than 500 miles to reach the Santiago de Compostela in Spain, with its shrine and relics of the apostle James (King Vol. 1 8-15, Vol. 3 68-73). James had traveled to the farthest reaches of the known European world in Galicia (Spain) to preach the gospel following Jesus' death. Traversing the route was also one of the few ways for non-wealthy Christians to earn indulgences (clerical forgiveness) for serious earthly sins (King Vol. 38-15).

The site of St. Trophime originally held a 5th-6th century Carolingian basilica dedicated to Saint Stephen, the protomartyr of Christianity (Klingshirn 61). By 972 CE, the relics of Saint Trophimus (who established the Bishopric of Arles in 251 CE) began to be transferred here from the basilica in Alyscamps. Following this, work began on the new Cathedral of Arles that was to replace the previous basilica (Sullivan Introdution, King Vol. 1 8-15). The conversion into a Cathedral involved the construction of a new apse and transept, followed by a nave and bell tower. By 1152, all the relics of Saint Trophimus were re-interred in Arles, and the nearly-complete Cathedral was dedicated to him (Cook 51-56). Saint Trophimus was the first bishop of Arles, and one of seven bishops sent by Rome to Gaul around 250 CE for the purpose of preaching the gospel and establishing the church there. By 1170-1180, the current Romanesque façade was finished; this was a particularly appropriate stylistic form given Arles' status as a vital roman center from the 1st century BCE through the 4th and early 5th centuries CE. In 1178, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was crowned at St. Trophime by the archbishop of Arles, firmly solidifying the Cathedral's status as one of the church's power centers (Weidner and Bridges 165). Also during this period, construction began on the remarkable monastic cloister, built for the canon priests who helped administer the grounds and attend to the bishop. The cloister is attached to the church, lies within the cathedral enclosure, and surrounds an open courtyard (Cook 81). From the mid 12th century through the early decades of the 13th, the Romanesque structures of the cloister were built starting with the northern gallery and ending with the completion of the eastern gallery by 1220, which contains a few Gothic sculptural features within its basic Romanesque architectural form. Starting in the 12th century, Romanesque engineers developed this new architectural form, distributing thrust and improving the shape and durability of geometric surfaces. During the 14th century, St. Trophime's southern and western galleries were built entirely in the Gothic style, based around these cross-ribbed vaults intersected by pointed arches, all resting on colonnettes topped by foliated capitals (Cook 82-83, Schneider Abstract).

Following this work, construction declined as Provencal and Catholic power centers shifted away from Arles to Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, the new center for the papacy from 1309-1377 CE. The Kingdom of Arles began to agitate for greater independence and self-determination during this time as well, but was suppressed by King Charles I of Anjou (Cook 53). This period of decline was further exacerbated by the pan-European ravages of the Black Death in the mid-13th century. Construction on the cloister resumed in the late 14th century with the building of the southern and western galleries; all of the new work was in the Gothic style favored by the popes at Avignon (Encyclopædia Britannica). In the 15th century the Cathedral itself was also expanded when a Gothic choir was added to the nave during 1445-1465 (Cook 92). In 1801, St. Trophime was decommissioned as a Cathedral and given the status of a simple parish church when Provence’s bishopric moved to Aix-en-Provence. In 1882, however, Pope Leo XIII declared St. Trophime's status to be that of a minor basilica, thus restoring it to a prestige position in recognition of its historical and architectural significance (UNESCO, gccatholic.com). In 1981, the Romanesque and Roman historic center of Arles was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and St. Trophime is considered one of the historic center's most cherished Romanesque structures. As one of Europe's most well-preserved and magnificent Romanesque churches, St. Trophime has consistently drawn admirers from all over the world.
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Perspective of the east wing's arcade facing the cloister courtyard, created from photo-textured laser scan data

Project Narrative

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The cloister of Saint-Trophime was scanned over a period of two and a half days, from May 15-17, 2009. The scanning of the monument was part of a decades-long international effort led by World Monuments Fund to preserve the church as a valuable example of Christian iconography and an important combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. In conjunction with Christofori Und Partner, documentation of the cloister, cloister roofs, church portal, interior plaza, and the Place de la République plaza outside the church was conducted with a Leica HDS 6000 laser scanner. Digital 3D Point Clouds of these areas were thus created and High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI) photographs were taken to provide panoramic images of the site.

Twenty-two scans of the cloister interior were taken on May 15th, the first day of surveying on site. Eight scans of the roofs and seventeen additional scans of the cloister interior, internal plaza, and the Place de la République were taken on the second day of the project. The roof scans were done in great detail to provide documentation for conservators on the workings of the cloister’s water drainage system. The scans of the church’s interior plaza and the Place de la République were taken to provide a wider context of the church within its local environment. On the morning of May 17th, four additional scans were made of the highly detailed church portal and front façade of the church.

A total of 51 scans were taken overall, amounting to over 1.9 billion surface points; the largest amount recorded by CyArk for a single project structure at date of publication. Using the collected data, 3-D models, plans, and high resolution panoramic photos have been created as an archive of the cloister’s preservation. The digital archive will then be consulted by preservationists throughout conservation scheduled for 2010 at St. Trophime.
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West elevation of the Portal of Saint-Trophime, created from photo-textured laser scan data

Preservation

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In the late 1980s and early 1990s, World Monuments Fund worked with local and national authorities on a variety of conservation projects, including the analysis, treatment, and cleaning of the façade of St. Trophime. In addition to the archival scanning undertaken by CyArk and Christofori und Partner, World Monuments Fund has also sponsored several analyses of St. Trophime, including: a sculptural survey in the summer of 2008 by Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherche sur les Matériaux to determine the chemical composition of the stones round the cloister, their original color, and what the ravages of time had wrought on their patinas; testing on the sculptural tops of the cloister’s columns was conducted by the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas to determine whether UV or infrared laser technology could be used to clean the capitals; and a geographic analysis of St. Trophime’s stones was conducted by Avencia, who have developed a stone-conservation database for the City of Arles to monitor changes in the conditions of the church’s stonework.
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Area Descriptions

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Cloister Ground Floor
East Wing
Columns 41-42, 44-52
Columns 53-63
Columns 64-77, 80
North Wing
Columns 1-2, 5-20
Columns 21-31
Columns 32-40, 43
South Wing
Columns 78-79, 81-85
Columns 86-89
Columns 90-93
West Wing
Columns 100-103
Columns 3-4, 104-107
Columns 94-99
Cloister Roof and First Floor

Cloister Ground Floor

Cloister Ground Floor Description:

The ground floor of St. Trophime's monastic cloister features a quadrangle court surrounded by four arcaded and sheltered walkways called ambulatories. St Trophime's cloister is attached to the church and lies within the cathedral enclosure, surrounding an open courtyard. Constructed in the 12th century, it was built for the canon priests who helped administer the grounds and attend to the bishop. From the mid 12th century through the early decades of the 13th, the Romanesque structures of the cloister were built, starting with northern gallery and ending with the eastern gallery, which was finished by 1220 and contains a few Gothic sculptural features.

Its southern and western galleries, built during the 14th century, are primarily in the Gothic style based around cross-ribbed vaults intersected by pointed arches, all resting on colonnettes topped by foliated capitals. The term 'foliated' refers to relief carvings of vegetation (foliage) on the column capitals; a sculptural convention that grew increasingly prevalent as the Romanesque period segued into the Gothic.

St. Trophime’s cloister follows typical conventions for this type of structure, including an entrance to the church's sanctuary near the east walk, which also bordered the chapter house community room, the business reception parlor, and the workroom (known as the camera). The walk parallel to the church bordered the calefactory fellowship center, the refectory, the pantries, and the kitchens, while the walkway parallel to this usually held the scriptorium and library. The west walk bordered the cellars located between the kitchens and a churchside porter's lodge, which also served as the principal portal to the cloister. At large monasteries, this plan was flexible as there could be several cloisters with different functions as befit the role of the church and monastery in both local and wider contexts. This basic framework of 'proliferating quadrangles' was drawn from German longhouses of the pagan era that predated Charlemagne's Christianization of most of pagan Europe.


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East Wing

East Wing Description:

In comparison to the cloister of St. Trophime's northern gallery, which is almost purely Romanesque, St. Trophime’s eastern gallery contains some Gothic sculptural features. Both galleries are structurally defined by the simple trusses that are a hallmark of Romanesque architecture. In these galleries, piers featuring bas-relief sculptures and full-length figures alternate with triple sets of paired columns. These columns are topped with ornately-carved capitals depicting various stories from the Old and New Testaments as well as more contemporary symbols, including the Annunciation of Christ and the seal of the Holy Roman Emperor. Several carved column piers also depict biblical and historical events.


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Columns 41-42, 44-52

Columns 41-42, 44-52 Description:

Carved columns and column capitals in this junction of the Romanesque northern and eastern wings are concerned with biblical matters, including a series on the mysteries of the life of the Virgin Mary.


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Columns 53-63

Columns 53-63 Description:

Here, in the central portion of the Romanesque eastern wing, carved column piers and column capitals are concerned with narratives from the biblical New Testament. Themes and figures include Judas, the Massacre of the Innocents, the Flight to Egypt, King Herod, and Christ Himself.


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Columns 64-77, 80

Columns 64-77, 80 Description:

As we come closer to the junction of the Romanesque east wing and the Gothic south wing, carvings on the column piers and capitals continue to be concerned with biblical New Testament events as well as some themes from the first few centuries CE. Themes and figures include the Adoration of the Magi, the Entrance into Jerusalem, Constantine, and the Temptation of Christ.


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North Wing

North Wing Description:

The cloister’s northern gallery is almost purely Romanesque. The northern gallery is structurally defined by the simple trusses that are a hallmark of Romanesque architecture. Romanesque was the predominant architectural style for Christian structures built in western Europe during the early middle ages, particularly monasteries, which were considered to be some of the last outposts of a Roman-type civilization that remained on the continent in the aftermath of Rome's fall. In this gallery, piers featuring bas-relief sculptures and full-length figures alternate with triple sets of paired columns. These columns are topped with ornately-carved capitals depicting various stories from the Old and New Testaments.

The northern gallery's sculptures have been dated between 1130 and 1180 CE by experts. The carved column piers depict biblical and historical events, including the stoning of St. Stephen and Christ meeting the disciples, who are depicted as pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela along the Route of St. James.


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Columns 1-2, 5-20

Columns 1-2, 5-20 Description:

Carved columns and capitals in this section of the northern gallery include themes such as the Sacrifice of Issac; the Ass and the Angel; the Resurrection of Lazarus; and Saint Trophimus, the patron saint of this church.


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Columns 21-31

Columns 21-31 Description:

Carved columns and capitals in this section of the northern gallery include themes such as the Oak of Mamre and Saint Paul Preaching the Gospel.


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Columns 32-40, 43

Columns 32-40, 43 Description:

Carved columns and capitals in this section of the northern gallery include themes such as Moses and the Burning Bush; the faces of humans and angels peering out from vegetation; the Ascension of Christ; and images of Saint Stephen, protomartyr of Christianity.


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South Wing

South Wing Description:

St. Trophime's southern and western galleries were built during the 14th century in primarily Gothic style, based around cross-ribbed vaults intersected by pointed arches, all resting on colonnettes topped by foliated capitals. As with the Romanesque northern and eastern galleries, the carvings found here depict scenes from the biblical Testaments, though in a decidedly Gothic form rather than Romanesque. Additionally, the capital carvings in the southern gallery are devoted to events in the life of Saint Trophimus himself, and provide a remarkable document to this towering Provencal personage of the 3rd century CE.

During the early 12th century, Romanesque engineers developed the Gothic architectural style which featured ribbed groin-vaulting with pointed arches. This new form distributed thrust and improved the shape and durability of geometric surfaces.

In general, the Gothic style was slow to be adopted by much of the church hierarchy and many wealthy patrons, who continued to prefer the more conservative forms of Classical Romanesque architecture. In France, however, beautiful examples of both Romanesque and Gothic structures were being built contemporaneously, and in later phases of construction at many churches (St. Trophime being an excellent example), both styles were reflected in the same structure. By the time the southern gallery was being built in the late 14th century, the seat of the Papacy had moved from Rome to Avignon (1309) and back to Rome (1377), and during this time the Gothic style was fully embraced and actively propagated by the Church. Additionally, administration for St. Trophime continued to be directed from Avignon during the infamous "Papal Schism" from 1378-1403, during which there were rival popes in Rome and Avignon.


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Columns 78-79, 81-85

Columns 78-79, 81-85 Description:

Carved columns and capitals in this section of the southern gallery are carved to depict a wide range of local historical events combined with biblical stories, particularly concerning the events in the life of Saint Trophimus. The corner pier depicts events towards the end of the life of Christ, including the Last Supper and Christ's Temptation by the Devil.

On some column capitals, there are also depictions of the Tarrasque, a mythical beast that combined a body shaped as a mix between a dragon and a bear with a turtle's shell, scorpion's tail, and a lion's head. In Provencal folklore, the Tarrasque terrorized the countryside but was charmed by the Christian icon Saint Martha, who brought it back to the city as a tame animal but it was destroyed by the frightened villagers. As it did not fight back, the villagers realized they had been wrong and named the town in its honor - Tarascon.


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Columns 86-89

Columns 86-89 Description:

Carved columns and capitals in this section of the southern gallery are carved to depict a wide range of local folklore and historical events combined with the biblical testaments, particularly concerning the events in the life of Saint Trophimus. Also depicted are fantastical beasts such as the chimera on column 88.

Also carved into the capitals are various Christian martyrs surrounded by their torturers who have been interpreted as relatives of Saint Trophimus, sentenced to death by the Emperor Charlemagne for slapping the archbishop Turpin.


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Columns 90-93

Columns 90-93 Description:

Carved columns and capitals in this section of the southern gallery are carved to depict a wide range of local folklore and historical events combined with the biblical testaments, particularly concerning the events in the life of Saint Trophimus.

Also carved into the capitals are various chained Christian martyrs standing to receive consolations from the bishop who have been interpreted as relatives of Saint Trophimus, sentenced to death by the Emperor Charlemagne for slapping the archbishop Turpin.


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West Wing

West Wing Description:

St. Trophime’s western gallery was built during the 14th century primarily in the Gothic style, based around cross-ribbed vaults intersected by pointed arches, all resting on colonnettes topped by foliated capitals. The carvings along the west wing depict scenes from the biblical testaments, though in a decidedly Gothic form rather than Romanesque. Carvings on these capitals continue the theme of Old and New Testament events that are carved throughout cloister, and include Samson slaying the lion and the Pentacost. Images of more localized Provencal folklore are also found here, such as a carving of the mythical Tarrasque beast that was reputed to terrorize the countryside.

In general, the Gothic style was slow to be adopted by much of the church hierarchy and many wealthy patrons, who continued to prefer the more conservative forms of Classical Romanesque architecture. In France, however, beautiful examples of both Romanesque and Gothic structures were being built contemporaneously, and in later phases of construction at many churches (St. Trophime being an excellent example), both styles were reflected in the same structure; though the western gallery was completed in an almost entirely-Gothic style during the infamous "Papal Schism" of 1378-1403.


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Columns 100-103

Columns 100-103 Description:

Carved column capitals in this section of the western gallery include images of Mary Magdeline in the house of Simon the Leper and the Annunciation of Christ.


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Columns 3-4, 104-107

Columns 3-4, 104-107 Description:

Approaching the junction of the strictly-Romanesque northern gallery and the purely-Gothic western gallery, carved columns and column capitals depict more traditionally biblical themes towards the Romanesque section. Deeper into the Gothic areas, the themes also touch on local folklore, such as Saint Martha and the Tarrasque.

The Tarrasque was a mythical beast that combined a body shaped as a mix between a dragon and a bear with a turtle's shell, scorpion's tail, and a lion's head. In Provencal folklore, the Tarrasque terrorized the countryside but was charmed by the Christian icon Saint Martha, who brought it back to the city as a tame animal but it was destroyed by the frightened villagers. As it did not fight back, the villagers realized they had been wrong and named the town in its honor - Tarascon.


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Columns 94-99

Columns 94-99 Description:

Deeper into the purely-Gothic areas of the western gallery, the themes of carved column capitals touch on local folklore such as Saint Martha and the Tarrasque, dragons, and chimeras; as well as more traditionally biblical themes, such as Samson's Haircut.


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Cloister Roof and First Floor

Cloister Roof and First Floor Description:

The cloister roof and first floor define those areas above the cloister’s ambulatory, including the roofs, towers, and interiors of the upper floor, which would have historically been the monastery’s dormitory.

St. Trophime’s roof includes a walkway round the upper edge of the ground floor ambulatory. It also features St. Trophime's Romanesque crossing tower, which, with three principal stages and almost cubical in shape, is one of the finest such constructions in Provence. The interior design of St. Trophime, particularly with regards to the upper floors, is relatively modest. It is also meticulously formal in its attentiveness to classical architectural form and detail, a precision that is exemplified in its simple aesthetic beauty. Such modesty in design is typical among pilgrimage churches of the period.

Within the upper interior of St. Trophime's cloister is a tiny museum room featuring several loose pieces of St. Trophime's elegant ecclesiastical detailing. Among these is this replica statue of one of St. Trophime's many saints.


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References:

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  1. Conant, Kenneth John, 1978. Carolingian and Romanesque Architecture - 800-1200. New York:Penguin Books
  2. Cook, Theodore Andrea, 1911. Old Provence, Volume 2. New York:Charles Scribner's Sons.
  3. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Province. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  4. King, Georgiana Goddard, 1920. The way of Saint James, Volumes 1 and 3. New York and London:Hispanic Society of America.
  5. Klignshirn, William E. 1994. Caesarius of Arles: The Making of a Christian Community in Late Antique Gaul. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.
  6. O'Reilly, Elizabeth Boyle, 1920. How France built her cathedrals: a study in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. New York and London:Harper and Brothers.
  7. Schneider, Marilyn Armstrong, 1983. The sculptures of the north gallery of the cloister of St. Trophime at Arles. New York:Phd Thesis for Columbia University.
  8. Sullivan, Mary Ann, 2007. Introduction to Saint Trophime, Arles, France. Located at Bluffton University Website.
  9. Weidner, Jay and Bridges, Vincent, 2003. The Mysteries of the Great Cross of Hendaye: Alchemy and the End of Time. Rochester:Destiny Books.

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Credits:

more     - Glenn Boornazian
            President and Principal Conservator

     - David Flory
            Conservation Architect

     - Amanda Thomas Trienens
            Senior Conservator

     - Norman Weiss
            Senior Scientist

CyArk
     - Justin Barton
            Technical Services Manager

     - Hannah Bowers
            Content Creator

     - Elizabeth Lee
            Director of Projects and Development

     - John Mink
            Lead Researcher

     - Ashley Richter
            Content Creator

     - Charisse Sare
            Content Creator

     - Jörg Bierwagen
            Dipl.-Ing. (TU) Architect

     - Erwin Christofori
            Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Beratender Ingenieur

     - Nina Engelhardt
     - Jörg Gräfensteiner
            Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Vermessung

     - Dirk Häusleigner
            Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Vermessung

     - Ervin Krajcir
     - Andreas Meier
     - Radek Rypar
     - Ruth Seidl