Google Earth Steps Back in Time to Ancient Rome
The first version of the Rome Reborn project was ten years in the making and was completed only last year. It included digital models of the terrain and over 7,000 structures--250 of which were highly detailed. The source for the data used to build the digital model was an actual 1:250 scale model of Rome that had been painstakingly built out of plaster of Paris over 40 years from 1933 to 1973. The real-world 3D model was scanned using laser scanners to create the data to populate the virtual model. The original purpose of the digital model was to be used in "an immersive theater at UCLA." The Rome Reborn project has gone through several iterations just since last year. The most recent version, Rome Reborn 2.0, has considerably improved the geometric detail, and perhaps more significantly to users who don't have direct access to the researcher's systems, the Rome Reborn project gained the ability to be viewed on the Web. That's when Google stepped in and offered to include the Rome Reborn data in Google Earth.
Any user of the current version of Google Earth can now tour Ancient Rome. Users can navigate in and around the structures, and can even "enter important public buildings such as the Roman Senate and the Colosseum." For the more highly-detailed 250 structures, additional research information can be accessed via "information bubbles" that hover over the relevant sites. Researchers plan to add more information over time. In fact, researchers hope that by making this data widely available on Google Earth that it will help provide incentive to other researchers to conduct similar 3D model of other ancient cities.