An interactive 3D immersion experience, powered by 3D technology from Dassault Systemes, is letting students and history buffs go back in time to explore the world-famous Giza plateau, home of the historic Giza Necropolis.
Dassault, which has been involved in similar projects, including using 3D technologies to recreate the mystery of the Pyramid of Kheops, has partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on the creation of the Giza Archives Project and Giza 3D. Giza 3D is an interactive Web application that lets users roam through the Necropolis, visit carefully restored tombs, shafts, and burial chambers, as well as enter into four of the site's ancient temples, including the Khufu and Menkaure pyramids. Using the browser interface, visitors can explore contemporary and ancient pictures of the site, view 30 objects from that time (meticulously reconstructed in 3D), while also gaining access to photos, field journals, maps, and other items from the MFA's Giza Archives Website to support an extended-learning experience.
Dassault Systemes and Harvard University are launching a project to explore the use of immersive virtual reality and interactive 3D in the classroom. As such, Harvard Egyptology students are being offered courses using an immersive 3D real-time virtual reconstruction of the Giza plateau.
Monica Menghini, executive vice president of industry for Dassault, said in a press release:
Today, the archaeological site of Giza is within reach of everyone -- a simple home computer is sufficient to experience the wonders of Ancient Egypt, and with a 3D TV, it is possible to have an immersive stereoscopic experience. The use of immersive rooms permits viewers to travel in space and time with unrivaled realism.
The Giza 3D application is based on work started more than a century ago by George Reisner, a renowned Egyptologist. Begun in earnest 10 years ago to pick up on Reisner's efforts, Reisner's collection of photos, diaries, drawings, and documents were digitized and made available online by the MFA through its Giza Archives. Using this information source, Dassault took the project even further, using its immersive 3D technologies, simulation tools, virtual reality, and visualization capabilities to build a multi-platform 3D experience for the Web, augmented reality systems, and potentially movie theaters and game consoles.
The Giza 3D project is also finding a footing in education. Dassault is collaborating on a project with Harvard University to explore the use of immersive virtual reality and interactive 3D offerings like Giza 3D in the classroom. For now, Harvard Egyptology students are being offered classes where they use an immersive 3D virtual experience that reconstructs the Giza plateau to go back in time. They can also extend the classroom experience by accessing the free Giza 3D Web application.