Rome Reborn: Take a Virtual Tour of Ancient Rome, Circa 320 C.E.

A few years ago, we fea­tured Rome Reborn, which is essen­tial­ly “a 3D dig­i­tal mod­el of the Eter­nal City at a time when Ancient Rome’s pop­u­la­tion had reached its peak (about one mil­lion) and the first Chris­t­ian church­es were being built.” Rome Reborn offers, declared Matthias Rasch­er, “a tru­ly stun­ning bird’s‑eye view of ancient Rome that makes you feel as if you were actu­al­ly there.” You may also remem­ber our posts on video analy­ses of great works of art by Khan Acad­e­my’s Smarthis­to­ry. Today, the two come togeth­er in the video above, “A Tour Through Ancient Rome in 320 C.E.”

In it, we not only see and move through ancient Rome recon­struct­ed, we have our extend­ed tour guid­ed by renowned “vir­tu­al archae­ol­o­gist” and over­seer of the Rome Reborn project Dr. Bernard Frisch­er, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia. He picks 320 C.E. as the year of the tour, “the peak of Rome’s devel­op­ment, cer­tain­ly in terms of pub­lic archi­tec­ture, for the sim­ple rea­son that the Emper­or at this time was Con­stan­tine the Great.” Short­ly after this year, Con­stan­tine would move the cap­i­tal from Rome to his city, Con­stan­tino­ple.

We hear Frisch­er in dia­logue with Dr. Steven Zuck­er, whose voice you may rec­og­nize from pre­vi­ous Smarthis­to­ry videos. Zuck­er’s ques­tions ensure that, while we take in the spec­ta­cle of Rome’s impres­sive archi­tec­ture (to say noth­ing of its equal­ly impres­sive aque­ducts) as it looked back in 320, we also think about what the real flesh-and-blood peo­ple who once lived there actu­al­ly did there: the jobs they did, the char­i­ot races they watched. “When I was study­ing ancient Rome,” admits Zuck­er, “one of the most dif­fi­cult things for me to under­stand was how all these ancient ruins fit togeth­er.” Now, with Frischer’s exper­tise, he and we can final­ly under­stand how the Forum, the Basil­i­ca, the Col­i­se­um, the Pan­theon and more all fit onto this ear­ly but still majes­tic urban fab­ric.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Cours­es in Ancient His­to­ry, Lit­er­a­ture & Phi­los­o­phy

Rome Reborn – An Amaz­ing Dig­i­tal Mod­el of Ancient Rome

How the Egypt­ian Pyra­mids Were Built: A New The­o­ry in 3D Ani­ma­tion

Vis­it Pom­peii (also Stone­henge & Ver­sailles) with Google Street View

Ani­ma­tion Gives You a Glimpse of What Life Was Like for Teenagers in Ancient Rome

The His­to­ry of Rome in 179 Pod­casts

Dis­cov­er 100 Great Works of Art with Videos Cre­at­ed by Khan Acad­e­my & Google Art Project

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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