The Pyramids at Giza, Coming to a Laptop Near You
May 10, 2012
A bird’s eye view of Giza 3D; Image: Dassault Systemes
The 3D-revolution that has overcome the movie and video game industry in recent years has largely been underwhelming, little more than a distraction (and an expensive one at that) that rarely, if ever, lives up to the hype. Which isn’t to say 3D doesn’t have its purposes, of course, but that it should be applied to and integrated with forms of media becoming of it. I’m not sure if this is the ideal pairing, but the new and free 3D virtual tour of the Pyramids at Giza ranks somewhere high on the barometer of cool (or mine, at least).
Developed by researchers at Harvard and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Giza 3D gives users the ability to explore the Giza Plateau and descend into the depths of the pyramids to raid tombs and comb through artifacts. French visualization company Dassault Systemes constructed the tour using Quicktime Virtual Reality to render 1,300 individual 360-degree panoramas and immersive approximations of the grounds and interiors, which have been detailed with digital facsimiles of wall reliefs, stone impressions, and rubble gathered from the 80,000+ items furnished by the Giza Archives Project, a co-sponsor of the interactive expedition. Each object and room is tagged with historical information, which forms the project’s educational component. Giza 3D director and Harvard Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian has already integrated the tour into his courses, leading students up and down a roller coaster ride through chambers and shafts with the jostling of a joystick (you can direct the tour with a mouse at home). As he told Boston’s NPR news station, Manuelian hopes that the site will bring Egyptology to the masses. Let’s hope so!