Veni, Google, Vici?


12 Nov 2008

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These might not be the words of Julius Caesar verbatim, but Google Earth is bringing us back in time to explore the streets and buildings of ancient Rome with a new feature in its virtual globe application Google Earth.

In association with the Rome Reborn Project at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at University of Virginia in the US, Google Earth has rebuilt Ancient Rome in 3D with 6,700 buildings to explore, and these include real buildings such as the Ludus Magnus gladiator school and the Rostra, where the philosopher Cicero made his famous speeches before Mark Anthony had him beheaded.

There are also extremely detailed interiors of 11 famous buildings, including the Colosseum, so you can have a good peek at statues and mosaics that you might remember from history lessons, but this time in all their 3D splendour.

This virtual Rome captures the empire at its zenith in 320AD, and as you explore, there are information bubbles with explanations and guides written by historians specialising in the study of ancient Rome.

The institute director at University of Virginia, Bernard Frischer, said that Google Earth Ancient Rome was “the continuation of five centuries of research by scholars, architects and artists since the Renaissance, who have attempted to restore the ruins of the ancient city with words, maps and images”. Pretty epic stuff.

Now what did Caesar say again? Veni, vidi, vici? Well, thanks to Google Earth, you can now do all three without leaving your living room. We saw ancient Rome in all its decadence and excess in the BBC TV series Rome. We conquered in the Sega game Rome: Total War, and now we have finally arrived, ready to explore the streets in 3D.

By Marie Boran

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