I was recently searching for some information on the astonishing Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain when I stumbled on this stunning digital animation exploring Rome in 320 A.D.. If you’ve every visited The Eternal City, or dreamed of going there, this fabulous video fly-through will give you chills. You can discover more about the Rome Reborn project on their website .
Here’s some info on the project:
“Rome Reborn is an international initiative whose goal is the creation of 3D digital models illustrating the urban development of ancient Rome from the first settlement in the late Bronze Age (ca. 1000 B.C.) to the depopulation of the city in the early Middle Ages (ca. A.D. 550). With the advice of an international Scientific Advisory Committee, the leaders of the project decided that A.D. 320 was the best moment in time to begin the work of modeling. At that time, Rome had reached the peak of its population, and major Christian churches were just beginning to be built. After this date, few new civic buildings were built. Much of what survives of the ancient city dates to this period, making reconstruction less speculative than it must, perforce, be for earlier phases. But having started with A.D. 320, the Rome Reborn team intends to move both backwards and forwards in time until the entire span of time foreseen by our mission has been covered.
Since 1997, the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory of the University of Virginia (VWHL), the UCLA Experiential Technology Center (ETC), the Reverse Engineering (INDACO) Lab at the Politecnico di Milano, the Ausonius Institute of the CNRS and the University of Bordeaux-3, and the University of Caen have collaborated on a project to create a digital model of ancient Rome as it appeared in late antiquity. The notional date of the model is June 21, 320 A.D.
Purpose of the 3D model
The primary purpose of this phase of the project was to spatialize and present information and theories about how the city looked at this moment in time, which was more or less the height of its development as the capital of the Roman Empire. A secondary, but important, goal was to create the cyberinfrastructure whereby the model could be updated, corrected, and augmented. Spatialization and presentation involve two related forms of communication: (1) the knowledge we have about the city has been used to reconstruct digitally how its topography, urban infrastructure (streets, bridges, aqueducts, walls, etc.), and individual buildings and monuments might have looked; and (2) whenever possible, the sources of archaeological information or speculative reasoning behind the digital reconstructions, as well as valuable online resources for understanding the sites of ancient Rome, have been made available to users. The model is thus a representation of the state of our knowledge (and, implicitly, of our ignorance) about the urban topography of ancient Rome at various periods of time. Beyond this primary use, the model can function in other ways. It can be used to teach students or the general public about how the city looked; it can be used to gather data not otherwise available, such as the alignment of built features in the city with respect to each other or to natural features and phenomena; and, it can be used to run urban or architectural experiments not otherwise possible, such as how well the city or the buildings within it functioned in terms of heating and ventilation, illumination, circulation of people, etc. Finally, a digital model can be easily updated to reflect corrections to the model or new archaeological discoveries.”
Beautiful! I’ve been to Rome a few years ago and it’s still beautiful, but to really see what the city looked like in 350 AD is something very special.