Travel to far-off places and far back in time through VR
Bob McDonald's science blog: Technology gives us a chance to visit exotic locations
If you are feeling confined at home, you can escape to the tombs of Ancient Egypt and other historic sites using 3-D web sites.
Thanks to Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and some collaborators, a range of the country's archeological wonders are available as 3-D tours that can be explored through your home computer.
They've been making announcements of new 3D tours of historic sites on their Facebook page, and the tours available so far are stunning.
The interiors of two Ancient Egyptian tombs and another cemetery site, a 14th century cathedral and a medieval mosque and historic synagogue have been scanned in high resolution detail. Some of them have further information embedded in the tours from historians and archaeologists.
The tomb of Menna located near the town of Luxor. Menna was an official in Ancient Egypt, probably during the reign of Amenhotep III, roughly 1350 years BCE. The tomb is one of the most photographed by visitors because of the abundance of colourful paintings on the walls.
The tomb of Queen Meresankh III, the wife of Pharaoh Khafre who lived about 4600 years ago. The tomb features unusual wall carvings and a stairway that leads even farther underground to the actual burial chamber. It is an eerie experience taking a virtual walk down the narrow stone stairs. You really feel like you are there.
Beni Hasan is a cemetery with 39 tombs, dating to the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, with burials from the 21st to 17th centuries BCE
The Red Monastery is a Coptic Orthodox Christian monastery dating back to the 4th century, located in the city of Sohag. You can go right up to the Altar, positioned under an elaborately decorated dome and imagine what it must have been like to attend a ceremony there.
The Ben Ezra synagogue in Old Cairo is a beautiful building, famous for the trove of historical and religious documents found in it during a renovation in the late 19th century.
The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq Has an open air court and many side chambers to explore.
In some ways, visiting these sites allows you to see more detail than if you were there in person. During the height of the tourist season, Egyptian archeological sites can become crowded with busloads of people trying to take photos, tour guides speaking loudly and pressure to keep moving because there is a line of people waiting outside. Virtual tours allow you to explore at your own pace and see close up details you might otherwise miss.
Hopefully, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities will continue to scan other sites, such as the interior of the Great Pyramid of Cheops or the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings so they can be explored from the comfort of home as well.
Until then you can visit other historical sites through Google Earth. It doesn't provide the scientific background but does give you a sense of being there. Here are a few fun ones.
- Pyramids of Egypt
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- The Acropolis, Greece
- Chichen Itza, Mexico
- The Forbidden City, Beijing, China
And get right out of this world with this tour of the International Space Station.