In A.D. 320, Rome had reached its peak as the capital of the Western world, with an estimated one million people living in the city’s 16 square miles. Digital technology has now made it possible to wander through the city as it appeared circa 320. A full-size, three-dimensional model allows users to explore the streets, plazas and forums, moving in any direction in real time. They can also enter public buildings such as the Roman Senate House, the Colosseum and the Temple of Venus.
Ten years in the making, “Rome Reborn 1.0” began at UCLA and is now based at the University of Virginia. An international team of archaeologists, architects and computer specialists from Italy, the United States, Britain and Germany collaborated with UCLA and UVA to build the biggest, most complete simulation of a historic city ever created.
“[This] is the continuation of five centuries of research by scholars, architects and artists since the Renaissance who have attempted to restore the ruins of the ancient city with words, maps and images,” says Bernard Frischer, project director and director of UVA’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. “Now, through hard work by our interdisciplinary team, we have realized their seemingly impossible dream. 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.”
The model is designed so that new discoveries and additional details can be easily added over time. One enhancement planned for the near future is populating the city with of tens of thousands of citizens. Break out the togas.
Video clips and still images can be viewed at romereborn.virginia.edu.