Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A fantastic tool for learning (and teaching) about archaeology

Couple of weeks back I met Ron Simkins, Professor of Theology and Classical & Near Eastern Studies at Creighton University in Omaha. He has developed an excellent site for archaeology, The Virtual World Project. It gives you a 360 degrees panoramic virtual tour of several archaeological sites in Jordan and Israel, and also some in Greece Turkey. You get a true sense of the site and what is around - with airfares like today, this is the best way to "go" to some of these places. A few sites also have an audio commentary - for example, check out the Qasr Bshir site in Jordan and listen to the commentary on the main gate of the castellum. I'm sure this is how we will be exploring Mars in the near future.

Check out the teaching guide here (at bottom left) and the related blog. Here is a brief description of the project:

The Virtual World Project presents interactive virtual tours of the ancient world in order to aid in the teaching and study of antiquity. The Virtual World Project has three primary goals:

  1. Pedagogical: Provide a resource for scholars and teachers across a variety of disciplines related to the ancient world
  2. Technological: Create interactive virtual tours of the ancient world using the best available computer technologies
  3. Conservational: Provide a visual database of the material remains of the ancient world as they presently exist

The Virtual World Project is an ongoing project that is updated continuously. The primary focus of the project is the Levant. To date, many sites in Israel and Jordan have been photographed and implemented in the project. Sites in Syria are planned in the future. A few sites in Greece and Turkey were the first sites photographed for the project in 2002. These sites are included in the project as Legacy Sites, though the project’s focus is elsewhere.