Website lets you explore ancient Egyptian pyramids virtually
The state-of-the-art engineering of today can take you to see state-of-the-art engineering from more than 4,000 years ago. Digital Giza, The Giza Project at Harvard University (giza.fas.harvard.edu) lets you travel halfway around the world and back in time by four millennia to see the famous Egyptian pyramids in their prime. And you can take the virtual trip without leaving your house.
The website is a free online archive of archaeological research on the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx and the surrounding structures. The data has been gathered from researchers around the world dating back to the early 1900s. But the site is not just a treasure trove for scholarly research. It also uses virtual 3-D technology to recreate many of the structures so you can take tours through the royal burial grounds.
Some of the tours include video or audio guides that explain what you’re seeing. There are also clickable labels on points of interest that give more information or take you to another location. Currently there are 21 virtual tours on the site of the various locations in the complex. Most tours start with an overhead view of the entire complex that zooms down to ground level and then enters the selected structure. As you roam through the narrow stone corridors from chamber to chamber, a small schematic drawing of the building shows you where you are. Most of the tours show what the structures looked like when they were new, but some show them in their current state with the option to see certain sections in a reconstructed view.
Beside the virtual tours, the site also has a section called Giza @ School. This area is for teachers and students who want to include Giza in their curriculum. There are a variety of topics covered, as well as a glossary and frequently asked questions section. There’s also a video library in this section that has short, narrated tours of many of the sites. The site has a library section that has quite a lot of downloadable PDFs of scholarly writings on Giza. Under the About section link is a subsection called Archaeology at Giza. This is an interactive timeline that lets you scroll through the years to explore the ancient dynasties and the expeditions that uncovered them. A My Giza section lets you create an account where you can save and organize items from the digital collection for future reference.
I’m not an archaeologist or a scholar on ancient Egypt, so a lot of the information on the site is beyond what I want to know. The 3-D virtual tours are what got me interested in visiting the site. Unfortunately, if you do have a deep interest, or a need to do research on Giza, several of the links to more in-depth information didn’t work for me. I encountered a few error pages as I tried to check out some of the archival information. Despite these few hiccups, there still is plenty of information on the site for those interested in digging deeper into the past.
Kevin OʼNeill has been a staff artist for The Times-Tribune since June 1993. In addition to doing illustrations and infographics and designing pages for the paper’s print and electronic publications, he writes InSites, a weekly column about websites and apps. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9100 x5212