ANTINOUS and Hadrian visited the Great Pyramid at Giza in late September of the year 130 AD, as had Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Herodotus and other notables before them. Now you can strip away the centuries and see just what they saw, thanks to an online experience that brings Giza to you, transporting you across the world — and through time — to the land of the Pharaohs.
Dassault Systèmes created a 3-D model of the Giza Necropolis, a free application available to all Internet users, which was unveiled this week at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
In fact, this digital model is the only way we can see Giza in its ancient splendor, before looting, erosion, urban sprawl and artifacts being sent across the world. Ironically, the virtual 3-D version may be more pristine and offer a closer look than any of those ancient travelers were able to see.
"You are visiting and discovering through a new kind of interactive story," says Mehdi Tayoubi, VP of design and experimental strategy at Dassault Systèmes. "Each time, you can take control of the 3D expereince as a time travel tourist."
Giza 3-D, which which is already being used in Harvard Egyptology classes, shows how technologies can be integral to historical and art preservation.
"We've equipped software for a new generation of classroom," Tayoubi told Mashable. "We have the teacher traveling through time, bringing students inside pyramids, temples and funeral ceremonies."
There are two ways you can explore Giza 3-D. You can take guided tours of certain monuments by Harvard's Peter Der Manuelian, the Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology, or you can wander through the ancient temples, restored tombs, burial chambers and pyramids.
Each site is annotated, so you can read archaeologists’ field journals and maps, view contemporary and ancient pictures and browse some 30 objects constructed in 3-D.
Giza 3-D integrates 100 years of research by the Giza Archives Project, and museums and universities from around the world, in an effort lead by Professor Der Manuelian. Only 10% of Giza 3D is completed, currently including four temples and the Pyramids of Khufu and Menhaure.
The Pyramid of Khafre, the middle of the Necropolis’s three pyramids, and the Sphinx aren’t part of the experience yet.
"What is important for us is to create a community around this experience," Tayoubi says. "You can bring kids to this virtual environment and they will understand, but if you adapt what you say it will work for an entirely different audience."