Explore ancient Rome, from your computer, in 3-D

Can you figure out some way to make this work in a classroom?

Science Daily reports that a team at UCLA working with a lot of others completed an 11-year project to map out Rome as it appeared when it was the commercial and political capital of the western world, three centuries into the first millennium:

“Rome Reborn 1.0″ shows almost the entire city within the 13-mile-long Aurelian Walls as it appeared in A.D. 320. At that time Rome was the multicultural capital of the western world and had reached the peak of its development with an estimated population of one million.

“Rome Reborn 1.0” is a true 3D model that runs in real time. Users can navigate through the model with complete freedom, moving up, down, left and right at will. They can enter important public buildings such as the Roman Senate House, the Colosseum, or the Temple of Venus and Rome, the ancient city’s largest place of worship.

As new discoveries are made, “Rome Reborn 1.0” can be easily updated to reflect the latest knowledge about the ancient city. In future releases, the “Rome Reborn” project will include other phases in the evolution of the city from the late Bronze Age in the 10th century B.C. to the Gothic Wars in the 6th century A.D. Video clips and still images of “Rome Reborn 1.0” can be viewed at http://www.romereborn.virginia.edu.

Now we need to wonder: Will it be available for classroom use?

More below the fold.

Much of the technology used for the mapping would be familiar to users of Sony’s Playstation 3®. IBM provided a grant to the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) to aid in the work. Italy’s Politecnico di Milano also provided major assistance.

Forum in Ancient Rome, copyright UCLA Back steps of the Rostra (speaker’s platform) in the Roman Forum with columns capped by statues of famous leaders. The Basilica Aemilia is in the background on the left. Back right, the Basilica Julia, first built by Julius Caesar, which housed law courts. (Credit: Copyright of the Regents of the University of California 2007)

Historians and cartographers have taken to using computer models for a lot of work. This is the first time a project of this magnitude has been completed, mapping an entire city. Having done it once, however, the team suggests they may be able to do other cities more quickly.

The “Rome Reborn” project was begun at UCLA in 1996 by professors Favro and Frischer. They collaborated with UCLA students from classics, architecture and urban design who fashioned the digital models with continuous advice from expert archaeologists. As the project evolved, it became collaborative at an international scale. In 2004, the project moved its administrative home to the University of Virginia, while work in progress continued at UCLA. In the same year, a cooperative research agreement was signed with the Politecnico di Milano.

Many individuals and institutions contributed to “Rome Reborn” including the Politecnico di Milano (http://www.polimi.it ), UCLA (http://www.etc.ucla.edu/), and the University of Virginia (http://www.iath.virginia.edu). The advisors of the project included scholars from the Italian Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Roman Civilization (Rome), Bath University, Bryn Mawr College, the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, the German Archaeological Institute, Ohio University, UCLA, the University of Florence, the University of Lecce, the University of Rome (“La Sapienza”), the University of Virginia and the Vatican Museums.

The first sponsors of the project were Kirk Mathews and the Creative Kids Education Foundation. Other sponsors have included: Alitalia, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, Intel, Microsoft, Multigen-Paradigm, the National Science Foundation, The Rose Family of New York, Shuttle, Tecnark Italia, UCLA Academic Technology Services, the UCLA College of Arts and Letters, the UCLA Division of Humanities, and the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.

Teachers may also want to explore potential classroom materials at these sites:

Update June 12, 2007: Other commentary on these sites can be found through this post, “Roma Renascuda,” at Departament de Llatí de Pedreguer.

One Response to Explore ancient Rome, from your computer, in 3-D

  1. computer tips

    Cool, very good article, i like it..


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