Roman Cologne to go on line

Bit by bit the Roman world is being digitalised for our delectation. The latest place to have a virtual Roman version is Cologne. The makers say it’s a different kind of experience from the others, but the photos look very similar to  what we’ve seen from  other places. This one is rather good, looking a bit like St Peter’s Square in Rome today.


A team of archaeologists, scientists and
software programmers has created a 3D virtual model of the city of
Cologne as it was 2,000 years ago. Though not yet online, the software
allows visitors to fly through the city in its Roman glory.

A new computer program will allow the curious to see Cologne,
Germany’s fourth-largest city, as it was almost 2,000 years ago, when
it was a major northern outpost of the Roman Empire.

“Now, for the first time, people will be able to visualize what an
amazing city Cologne already was in antiquity,” said Hansgerd
Hellenkemper, the director of the city’s Romano-Germanic Museum.

The city’s history stretches back to 38 B.C. After Julius Caesar
pushed the empire north during his conquest of Gaul in the mid-first
century B.C., the Romans resettled the Germanic Ubii tribe on the banks
of the Rhine River. In 50 A.D., the settlement was granted the status
of an official Roman city and was given the name Colonia Claudia Ara
Agrippinensium. The city grew to be a major trading center, a status it
still preserves today.

allows visitors to use a computer mouse to navigate a virtual “flight”
around the city, where they will find impressive sights, such as the
massive city wall and its monumental gates, the forum, the over
40-meter-high (130-foot) Capitoline Temple, the forum with its
semicircular portico and the proconsul’s palace.

The project, which has taken over three years to put together, is a
collaboration between archaeologists, researchers and software experts
drawn from the Archaeology Institute at the University of Cologne, the
Köln International School of Design (KISD), the Cologne University of
Applied Sciences, the University of Potsdam’s Hasso Plattner Institute
(HPI) and Cologne’s Romano-Germanic Museum.

According to the project’s Web site, the purpose of creating the
model was to “allow Roman Cologne to be visualized using the findings
of current research and to thereby make it comprehensible in its
historical dimension to an even larger public.”

While the model’s content was completed this week and can be accessed
using CAD software, it has yet to be made accessible online. The
project’s leaders have declined to specify when this process will be
completed, but the project’s team has already begun working on its next
project, a virtual model of modern Cologne, dominated by the 157-meter
(515-foot) twin spires of its famous cathedral.

Hamburg and
have 3D city models that allow users to take virtual flights through
the cities using Google Earth. Virtual models of other historical
places also exist — for example, for Rome,
Pompeii and Herculaneum — but in a different form. “Those were more
like computer-generated animations rather than large-scale models that
you could navigate,” says Jürgen Döllner, a professor of computer
graphics at the HPI, who led the technical implementation of the

jtw — with wire reports

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