Walk Like An Egyptian

Rendering of Queen Hetepheres lounging poolside. Her tomb is one of the great mysteries of the Giza Necropolis; there was no body inside.

I’ve been to Egypt twice.

The first time was in 1986. IĀ  was 21 and traveling with friends. We spent about a week, living on the cheap, and went from Cairo to Luxor to Aswan. Saw the Sphinx, the Pyramids, the underground burial chambers and the Cairo Museum. Traveled by bus down the highways and by boat along the Nile. Learned a lot of history despite paying more attention to the cute tour guide’s Egyptian accent than to what he had to say.

Images from that trip swim in my head. I’m sure many of them have been twisted and combined with other places and times but when I think of my time in Egypt, the one thing I see clearly are the underground chambers where the royalty were buried: the stories painted on the walls, the jewels, the stone coffins.

This past Tuesday night I returned to the burial chambers at Giza in Egypt and walked along the underground corridors as I had done in ’86. Actually, it was more like I glided through them and even got to travel through the stone walls and air shafts. And this time, in addition to a tour guide providing historical information, I got to be in the past in a historically accurate way, sort of like time travel. I stood in the chambers in the years just after the actual burials, when everything was in place as it was intended, and then, I stood there in the early 20th century, when the ravages of weather and looting and degradation had damaged the chambers significantly.

The experience was surreal.

Clearly, I didn’t actually go to Egypt, which I am okay with considering the current state of affairs in that country. Not exactly a safe place to visit at this time. But, for the hour that I sat in a small auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, with 3D glasses over my eyes, I felt like I was moving through this place in real time, like I WAS in Egypt around 2500 B.C. and again around 1915.

This was all part of the unveiling of the Giza 3D interactive application, which was produced as part of a multi-year, collaborative project between the MFA, Harvard University and Dassault Systemes, a French 3D design and software company with American headquarters in Massachusetts.

There are a couple of really cool takeaways that I want to leave with you.

  • An early 20th century expedition to Egypt, under the auspices of Harvard University, provided the data, which was digitized, cross-indexed, and put into a database, that is the basis for the Giza 3D application.
  • A 3D immersive environment (virtual reality room) has been created at Harvard University, where students of Egyptology have been using this application to learn about Egypt in a more powerful, experiential way.
  • Anybody, for FREE, can use the interactive application to travel to Egypt virtually because it is now available online at www.3ds.com/giza3D.

I hope you’ll give it a try. All you need is access to a computer and the internet.

I’m curious what you think about this application. Do you see it as part of the evolution of education from being lecture-based to experiential? Do you think you or your children will get more out of a museum exhibit or a classroom lesson if more data like this is digitized and put into a 3D format?

I really would like to hear your thoughts even if you just want to say how wonderful you think I am. šŸ™‚


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12 thoughts on “Walk Like An Egyptian

  1. I’ve always wanted to go visit Egypt! Hopefully, one of these day I’ll get the chance!

    LOVE the video by the way! Best SNL days!

    1. I hope it will be easier to travel there in the near future. They’ve been going through so much turmoil.

      If you get a chance, check out the link in the post. It is a cool way (although not as cool as being there) to experience the burial chambers, one of the most fascinating parts, imho, of Egyptian history.

      SNL was awesome back then. We still sing that song to my dog but sing “King Tuck” since his name is obviously Tuck.

  2. Wow, Sara! Great coverage. I was thrilled that you made it to the MFA event and “experienced” Egypt again; with all that is happening in the region it is not out of the question to imagine the day when all we have are memories or virtual experiences. LOL….I was waiting all night for Steve Martin to appear! Now thanks to your post I can watch him on my laptop, fire-up the the Giza 3D app, and tool around Egypt before bed! thanks again dear friend for coming to our event and glad you enjoyed it!

    1. I am so glad I was able to go. It really was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in a long time. And got my mind going all over the place about how education, both on the school and museum level, is changing for the better. Thanks for including me in the event!

  3. That sounds so cool, Sara, I can’t wait to check it out tomorrow! Always wanted to go there. Oh, and you’re wonderful šŸ˜‰

    1. Ask and you shall receive. šŸ™‚ You are wonderful too. Definitely check it out. I was fascinated by it.

    1. Hadn’t thought of that specifically, but you are so right. They need to move along with digitizing all this info and putting it into 3D.

  4. I love when they can use technology to enhance history like this. I just don’t like it when they use technology just to use it and the education is secondary. The pyramids are on my bucket list, too.

So what do you think?