A Virtual Reality Experience of Ancient Jerusalem
Wars, modernization and gentrification are all factors that wipe off a city’s heritage ad treasures. Many of the world’s oldest cities have simply morphed into new cities as old buildings are gradually knocked off to pave way for new structures. In some cases, some preservation or restoration is done but the ancient urban treasures are often lost forever.
One of the world’s oldest cities in the world is Jerusalem which is more than 5000 years old and which has gone through a lot historical turmoil through wars, conquests and occupation by various empires.
Thankfully for Jerusalem, there are loads of archaeological materials and written records that detail what the city looked like more than 2000 years ago and a Jerusalem museum has used these to recreate an augmented reality tour of the ancient city.
The Tower of David Museum is located in the Old City of Jerusalem and is planning to a launch an AR tour of the city that will take users on a guided tour through city’s past. Dubbed Step into History, the VR tour allows users to walk through the streets of Jerusalem and experience both the present and the past of the city by wearing the augmented reality goggles.
The creators of the AR city tour collaborated with the Israel Antiquities Authority along with the Australian startup Lithodomos VR to build 360-degree simulations of how the city of Jerusalem looked in the past. The virtual reality simulation covers many of Jerusalem’s highlights including its palaces, streets, the Jerusalem citadel and its ancient Jewish Temple as they appeared during its glory days under King Herod in Jesus’ lifetime.
Herod was a Roman vassal who ruled Judaea more than 2000 years ago and is responsible for some of the greatest construction projects in the city and other locations such as its palaces, a mountaintop fortress that is located at Masada as well as the port city of Caesarea.
To bring out a virtual reality rendering of Jerusalem that was as accurate as possible, the creators of the VR experience poured over vast archaeological resources. The team also worked with other artists and archaeologists who have been involved in recreating VR renderings of other ancient cities of the antiquity such as Athens, Rome and London.
The VR experience takes you through some of the main vantage points in the city of Jerusalem including the Ottoman-era citadel that was constructed on top of other ancient landmarks, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, the remnants of the Second Jewish Temple. To experience these marvels, users have to put on their VR headsets while stationary so as not to crash into the modern city.
At every vantage point of the ancient city of Jerusalem, there is a narration on the historical significance of the feature which the user can see via their virtual reality headsets. The entire virtual tour will take about two hours.
The VR tour covers only the Jewish Quarter of the Old City which lies to the east of Jerusalem. It is a contentious area of Jerusalem that is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians as their future capital. It also hosts some of the holiest sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews.
However, in spite of its limited scope, the Jerusalem VR tour still delivers an incredible experience. The virtual reality project plans to expand the scope of the city tour by adding more historical layers of Jerusalem.