3D tour of pyramids and monuments of Giza now available!

The massive and wonderful Giza Archives project, a joint Harvard-MFA mission under the direction of Peter Der Manuelian, announced today that they have released an innovative 3D tour of the Giza plateau developed for the Harvard-MFA project by Dassault Systems.

It’s an animated computer rendering of the Giza Plateau, home to the famous pyramids near modern-day Cairo. Manuelian leads our tour with a device that’s a cross between a joystick and a mouse.

“I can steer anywhere I want to go,” he explained. “So it’s not a linear movie or a frozen video, where I start at the beginning and go to the end. We can dive down a burial shaft, we can visit the pyramid.”

We start by flying over the whole complex, getting a bird’s-eye view. Then we swoop down into a courtyard to see an ancient Egyptian burial ceremony. Suddenly, with a flick of the joystick, we plunge into a long shaft that leads to a burial chamber.

It is a little dizzying, and it’s all very whiz-bang. But Harvard and the MFA insist this has an educational purpose, too: it’s linked to the Giza Archive Project, a massive digital database of materials gathered during a decades-long joint Harvard-MFA expedition of the Giza Plateau. So you can click on anything you come across — say, a tomb — and immediately access all that digitized information.

“Lists of statues, ceramics, objects of daily life from that tomb, references to scholarly publications, maps and plans, old photographs, even unpublished manuscripts,” Manuelian reeled off.

This kind of “edu-tourism” has the potential to bring ancient Egypt to the masses, he said. A French software company with U.S. headquarters in Waltham, Dassault Systemes, is behind this technology. One of its vice presidents, Mehdi Tayoubi, called the Giza 3D project the “democratization” of a high-tech tool.

This is the type of investigatory tool we live for!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Photo: Lynn Jolicoeur/WBUR

Photo: Lynn Jolicoeur/WBUR

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The Art of Counting is dedicated to the memory of Margery Meilleur, who first taught me to view history through the eyes of the images we create.