Not only was Rome not built in a day, but a digital model took 10 years to construct. A team of archaeologists, architects and computer specialists from Italy, the United States, Britain and Germany has just unveiled a sprawling 3D digital simulation of the ancient city as it appeared at the height of its development as the capital of the Roman Empire.
They are calling it the largest, most comprehensive simulation of a historic city ever created.
"Rome Reborn 1.0," based at the University of Virginia, shows almost the entire city within the 13-mile-long Aurelian Walls in 320 A.D., when Rome was the multicultural capital of the Western world. Visitors can navigate through key sites such as the interiors of the Roman Senate House, the Colosseum, or the Temple of Venus and Rome, the ancient city's largest place of worship.
The $2 million simulation, which is aimed at students, scholars, travelers and anyone else interested in history and urban planning, can be easily updated to reflect the latest knowledge about the ancient city. In future releases, the project will include other phases in the evolution of the city, from the late Bronze Age in the 10th century B.C. to the Gothic Wars in the 6th century A.D.
"This is just the first step in the creation of a virtual time machine, which our children and grandchildren will use to study the history of Rome and many other great cities around the world," said Bernard Frischer, head of the project and director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia.
"Rome Reborn" was started at the University of California at Los Angeles by two professors, who collaborated with students from classics, architecture and urban design to fashion the digital models using expert archaeological advice and laser scans of some 7,000 buildings. As the project evolved, it became collaborative on an international scale.
Click here to see a gallery of images from the project.