See Ancient Rome in 3D

by AKNickerson / Nov 19, 2008 /

Wandering the streets of Rome or wrapped up in a quilt while reading about the Eternal City, it can be difficult to imagine what ancient Rome once looked like. On my first visit I was amazed to suddenly realize that there were unexcavated ruins under just about everything in the city center and beyond. Visiting museums like that at San Clemente and Crypta Balbi offer a glimpse of what lies beneath, but now we have another tool that may be even more helpful. Google Earth has teamed up with the University of Virginia’s Rome Reborn 2.0 project to create a 3D map of Ancient Rome.

Palatine of an acqueduct - looking toward Colosseum 

The project was released last week and garnered a lot of press coverage, but I wanted to have a chance to play with it. Well, this weekend I did, and it is impressive to say the least. The 3D renderings are well-done, and the city emerges on the impressive 3D map with astonishing detail and ease. Navigating between the Colosseum and the Baths of Constantine, the Roman Forum comes into view complete with statuary and buildings modest and imposing alike. The detailing is suggested in some places and very complete in others. Some of the more than 6000 buildings even have interior fly-through shots. Astonishing!

But this project is intended for the tech-savvy amongst us. It isn’t intimidating, but it is a little complicated and it requires some practice to learn to navigate it well. Keep that in mind. 


An aerial view over the Roman Forum

I can imagine hundreds of applications for this new tool for students, travelers, and researchers alike. 


All photos courtesy of Rome Reborn 2.0.  Copyright information for each image may be found here:


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