Harvard Egyptology students are being offered innovative courses using an immersive 3D real-time virtual reconstruction of the Giza plateau, based on actual archeological data gathered by Harvard and Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) expeditions to Egypt in the first part of the 20th century.
Peter Der Manuelian, the Philip J. King professor of Egyptology at Harvard University, uses the immersive 3D experience to virtually transport his students to the Giza plateau itself and enhance the way ancient Egyptian history and archaeology are taught.
“The virtual environment provides a new means for learning about Egyptian civilization. The project has allowed my students and colleagues to visualize the Giza data and update and integrate it in a way that was not possible in the past,” stated Der Manuelian.
“Students transition from an environment where the instructor essentially drives the learning process to one where the students are immersed in the environment and drive the dialog and discussion themselves,” added John Shaw, chair of Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “The technology associated with the project helps researchers portray their understanding of the past and show interpretations of the applicable science to students.”
The virtual reconstruction of the Giza plateau originated as a collaborative project between Dassault Systèmes and the MFA in Boston.
Students can extend their use of the virtual environment outside the classroom by using an online version of the 3D experience.
“Until now, immersive virtual reality was mainly used by our business customers in industrial contexts,” said Monica Menghini, executive vice president, Industry, at Dassault Systèmes. “Our goal is to also bring these technologies to the world of education and research, to enhance the learning experience of students and facilitate research studies.”