The program has been in the works for nearly 50 years and offers viewers a birds-eye or on-the-ground view of ancient Rome in its prime.
A new program shows you a 3D reconstruction of ancient Rome in its prime in the fourth century C.E.
The program, “Rome Reborn,” allows you to choose between a birds-eye view and an on-the-ground view. It features recreations of many important ancient buildings and monuments, including the Colosseum, Pantheon, Baths of Caracalla, and the Roman Forum.
The program has actually been around since its first iteration was launched in 2007, but the new-and-improved version features both new and updated detailed recreations of Rome’s ancient landmarks. And before the virtual city was launched, it was in the works for decades.
Rome Reborn is the brainchild of digital archaeologist Bernard Frischer from Indiana University Bloomington. He came up with the idea all the way back in 1974 after visiting the Museum of Roman Civilization in Italy, where he saw a physical recreation of ancient Rome — and he realized he could take it even further.
“I remember looking down from a balcony at the physical model while in Rome and taking photos of it,” Frischer, who was a Rome prize fellow in classics at the American Academy in Rome at the time, told Live Science. “I used this as the inspiration for the reconstruction and I thought it would be nice if I could digitize it.”
After actively working on it for over nearly 30 years, the first version was released in 2007, with updates in 2008 and 2018. The program is sponsored by Flyover Zone, an educational technology company founded by Frischer. Flyover Zone aims for teachers, students, and interested people alike to have access to the program to learn more about ancient Rome.
“I looked at old site plans and photographs of ruins and put it all together,” Frischer told Live Science. “I wanted to have a visualization to bring people up to speed to see what the city would’ve looked like instantly. In two hours of exploration, people today will know more than what a Ph.D. student would’ve known in the 1970s.”
In the fourth century C.E., Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire and had a population of over one million. The city, just 5.3 square miles, had over 7,000 buildings.
The program shows Rome in 320 C.E., the city’s “peak,” just before Constantinople became the capital of the Roman Empire in 330.
In a statement from Flyover Zone, Frischer said he the goal of the program was “not to replace real-world tourism but to enhance it.”
“I hope that people’s curiosity is aroused and that they start the process of falling in love with antiquity in general, but to the city of Rome specifically,” Frischer said. “I want people to see the beauty and the grandeur and the innovation of ancient Rome. It was above and beyond other cities during that time.”
Flyover Zone offers 13 other virtual tours, including visits to the Acropolis in Athens and Egypt’s Tomb of Ramesses VI.
After reading about the 3D reconstruction of ancient Rome, read about these 33 facts about ancient Rome that will change the way you see history. Or, check out these 29 facial reconstructions of ancient people.