Google Earth recreates ancient Rome for history buffs

November 13, 2008

Google Earth gives us all the chance to visit any part of the world from the comfort of our own house, allowing users to fly around and zoom in on various parts of the present landscape of the globe. But now, thanks to a collaboration with the University of Virginia, history also forms part of Google Earth.

Being able to see how the world looks now is a brilliant initiative that is not only educational now but will help build a database for future generations. Unfortunately, Google is only 10 years old and not 2000 years old, meaning our generation doesn’t get the benefit of this database.

However, Google Earth does now include ancient Rome circa 320 AD, thanks to Google, the University of Virginia, and Past Perfect Productions working together to bring the historical city to life. Clicking on Ancient Rome in 3D, users can revisit Rome from a bygone era and view highly detailed reconstructions of 250 buildings, as well as 5,000 other lesser detailed buildings.

According to The BBC, the 3D models are based on the Plastico di Roma Antica, a physical reconstruction created by archeologists between 1933 and 1974. The map was unveiled in Rome by the present-day Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno.

As can be seen in the above video, the new map allows Google Earth users to fly around ancient Rome and zoom in on important buildings such as the Forum of Julius Caesar, the Colosseum, and the Basilica. The city detailed was at the heart of the Roman Empire and inhabited by more than one million people.

Google Earth 3D production manager, Bruce Polderman, said:

Whether you are a student taking your first ancient history class, a historian who spends your life researching ancient civilizations, or just a history buff, access to this 3D model in Google Earth will help everyone learn more about ancient Rome.

This new element of Google Earth will definitely help give everyone living today more of an idea of what ancient Rome was like to live in. Hopefully, Rome will just be the first of many such historical cities added to the database. I personally would love to see what Victorian London was like.

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