Some years ago, when I was doing my MSc in archaeological computing, I heard about a curious project led by Alan Chalmers, then at the University of Bristol, that aimed to digitally recreate accurate simulations of different light sources. These would then be used to “light” 3D models to show more accurately they may have looked under certain conditions, such as goose fat tallow candlelight. The light absorption and reflectance properties of objects and walls etc was also taken into consideration.
It seems that Alan’s research is progressing well at Warwick University, and is currently featured on the BBC Technology website. Light is often forgotten when interpreting life in the past, along with the fact that it wasn’t always daylight in days of yore. I’m please to see this get some popular publicity!
At the time, Alan was using software called Radiance, but from looking at the site, I’m not sure if it’s still being developed, but it might be worth a look if you want to get started.