Rome in Google Earth

I spent the weekend in a particularly brown, cold, and desolate corner of Colorado–pretty far away from the sunny Mediterranean.  Regardless, I spent a bit of time checking out Rome Reborn after Google’s big announcement last week.  Google Earth’s Rome page is a little disppointing, but it contains a brief youtube video and a few screenshots from the simulation.  After a little tinkering with my Google Earth settings (I had it set up to show me places to sleep in Ireland), I was able to check the buildings and placemarkers out.


Honestly, it was a bit of a mess.  Regardless, I’m used to dealing with Second Life, which brings messiness to a whole new level, so I really can’t complain much.  I tried to recreate swooping through the buildings like in the promotional youtube video, but dealing with the Google Earth camera is a little unwieldy and you can accidentally pop through this layer onto the modern Rome layer–the archaeology is actually transposed onto the modern landscape, which is an interesting contrast to our idea of archaeology being beneath the ground.


There were also several 3D buildings already on the landscape, made by community members, geolocated photos, and descriptions of places written independently of the Rome Reborn project.  Seeing them side by side with the more “official” interpretations is a nice feature in Google Earth, and I’m glad Google didn’t (as far as I know) remove any of the existing annotations.

Rome Reborn could be critiqued on any number of levels–the lack of non-elite buildings, the lack of authorship and “certainty” metrics (how sure we are that the building actually looked like the reproduction) but I’m happy that the team decided to come and play out in the world, instead of keeping Rome Reborn in a sandbox.  It’s certainly grander than our little Presidio reproduction:

Presidio Miscellany

Cinzia, one of my fellow instructors for the Remixing El Presidio class, did a fun 3D model of the Presidio with Sketchup and Google Earth.  You can check it out here.

I’ve always found instructing rewarding, but this is a particularly fun class with great students who are really motivated.  It’s one of those rare instances where the students have started to take over the class and teach themselves and each other.  I’m excited to see the end results!


I also had the chance to tour Lucasfilm yesterday.  I wasn’t allowed to take any photos, which was tragic, but I did get a photo of my pass.  I didn’t manage to retrieve the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant, but I did see the tiny robots from batteries not included, and squealed with delight–something I promised myself I wouldn’t do.  I guess the 9 year old in me took over.

In other news, I’m hosting a World Archaeological Congress social networking night during the conference in Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday night at The Duke.  If you’re attending WAC this year, I hope to meet you!

One last note!  I haven’t had time to check out the new iphone G3 release, but apparently I have to get one, and not only for the added GPS:


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