Ancient Rome in 3D

Okay people, you can stop emailing me this link now. I’m posting about it, SO CAN I HAVE SOME PEACE AND QUIET PLZ?!1

In all seriousness, Google Earth’s new Ancient Rome layer may well be one of the coolest things ever conceived by the mind of man. (And you can trust my judgment on these matters because I am entirely without bias.)

Ancient Rome 3D, as the new feature is known, is a digital elaboration of some 7,000 buildings recreating Rome circa A.D. 320, at the height of Constantine’s empire, when more than a million inhabitants lived within the city’s Aurelian walls. […]

Of the 7,000 buildings in the 1.0 version, around 250 are extremely detailed. (Thirty-one of them are based on 1:1 scale models built at U.C.L.A.) The others are sketchier and derived from a 3-D scan of data collected from a plaster model of ancient Rome at the Museum of Roman Civilization….

It’s like the only good part of the movie “Gladiator” (the sweeping CGI vistas of the city as they approach the Colosseum) expanded 7000-fold. You can fly over the urbs for the bird’s eye view, or you can focus in individual buildings at a level of detail that just boggles the mind.

One wee problem:

Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, suggested Wednesday that the Google Earth feature could gratify tourists who are disappointed to find that the city’s ancient monuments are in ruins. “They may not be enough to involve the tourist in the experience of Roman civilization,” he said. “The public needs the hook-up with virtual reality.”

Now that’s just stupid. I don’t know what tourists go to Rome thinking the ancient monuments aren’t in ruins, but I doubt they’re capable of downloading Google Earth if looking at pictures or cracking a book is too much of a challenge for them.

One of the things I love the most about Rome is envisioning the ruins as they once were. My parents had these great little books with pictures of monuments as they are now and a transparent film you would fold over the pic that filled in the blanks with renderings of the monuments as they were in antiquity.

I pored over those books for hours. I think the Google Earth Rome would be even cooler, in fact, if they offered an overlay feature: new city over old, old city over new. They certainly have the data for it.

Here’s a groovy demo of what the new layer looks like:



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Comment by TomJoe
2008-11-14 16:36:19

Hey, have you seen this link? It’s way cool!

Comment by livius drusus
2008-11-14 16:40:04

Rat fink. :p

Comment by ralph
2008-12-23 10:56:11

Very cool, first I’ve heard of this.
“It’s like the only good part of the movie ‘Gladiator'”

We must have been watching a different movie. What about the opening battle scenes? funny skull :skull: btw

Comment by livius drusus
2009-01-01 10:47:01

Too much herky jerky camera work. I know it’s supposed to make you feel the chaos of battle, but I just feel gypped.

I want to see the cast of thousands clearly, dammit!

Comment by Mike M
2012-10-21 14:41:24

Ya know, I just showed someone this app today. A person whom I have known that was in the history of department at Penn State University while I was a student there a few years back.

The person of whom I am speaking, loved it! They were saying how great it would be to time-travel to ancient Rome, and take a stroll through its streets.

I invited him to Philly for a road trip next weekend. He refused, saying how he doesn’t like large large cities! I was like: “But there is so much to see and do in Philly.”

He just sad: “Nah, I don’t like large crowds like that.” I told him about his wish to time-travel to ancient Rome, and ancient Rome was fairly crowded and busy. He said that was different. It was different, because it’s a very historical and famous place…the center of a great empire that is now extinct.

I find it quite ironic. The city of Philadelphia is one of America’s greatest cities. Rome in 350 BC was at the height of the Roman civilization. Philadelphia in 2012 is the height of the American civilization. While he may not be able to stroll along the streets of Rome in 350 BC, he sure as heck could stroll along the streets of Philadelphia in 2012.

While imagining what life was like….what it may have been like to have lived in a great ancient city is a great exercise, why take OUR CURRENT civilization and its great cities for granted? So many people do. Even history buffs. Literally “living in history,” in order to attempt to experience the past in person is impossible, but it can be fun to imagine. Our current time shouldn’t be taken for granted.

He totally agreed with this, thanked me, and now we have a road trip to Philly to look forward to this weekend! W00t!

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