Ancient Jerusalem Comes Alive in New Virtual-Reality App

By Tom Metcalfe, Live Science Contributor, April 6, 2017. Visitors to Jerusalem and virtual tourists alike can now see the city as it looked in ancient history, with a virtual-reality app based on archaeological reconstructions of the city at the height of its splendor under Roman rule in the first century. The program, named “Lithodomos VR,” is a paid android app for smartphones and portable virtual-reality headsets that was launched on Google Play in December 2016. The app sells for $1.99 on Google Play, and $2.99 in the Apple App Store. Developed by Simon Young, an archaeology doctoral student at the University of Melbourne in Australia, the app includes a 3D virtual view of the area around Jerusalem’s Western Wall, where the ancient stone walls of the city’s Temple Mount can still be seen. The VR scenes of Jerusalem in the Lithodomos VR app are based on the archaeology of the city years after Herod rebuilt the Temple Mount around 20 B.C., Young said, and before the destruction of the temple precinct by Roman troops in A.D 70, during the rebellion against Roman rule that became known as the Jewish Revolt (read more).

Virtual reality tour brings biblical-era Jerusalem to life

By Ilan Ben Zion,  AP September 5. JERUSALEM — A Jerusalem museum is breathing life into the ancient city with a new virtual reality tour that allows visitors to experience how archaeologists believe Jerusalem looked 2,000 years ago. The Tower of David Museum, which is housed in the Old City’s ancient stronghold, plans to launch the high-tech guided tour this month ahead of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The virtual reality guide, “Step into History,” offers visitors a chance to “walk in the streets of Jerusalem and enjoy the present and take a look back to the past,” said Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber. Working with archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Lithodomos VR created 360-degree simulations of how Jerusalem’s citadel, palaces, streets and ancient Jewish temple are believed to have appeared during its heyday under King Herod in the first century B.C. and during the life of Jesus. Herod, a Roman vassal who ruled Judaea from 37-4 B.C., invested heavily in large construction projects across his realm, including a major expansion of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the fortress and palace where the Tower of David stands today. His monuments, including the mountaintop fortress at Masada and the port city of Caesarea, are among the most visited sites in Israel. “Especially with Jerusalem, I think the biggest challenge was getting it right,” said Simon Young, founder of Lithodomos VR, an Australian startup. “There’s a lot of different opinions about how Jerusalem looked in the ancient world… Of course, we want to do justice to Jerusalem and to make it as accurate as possible.” Lithodomos VR’s team of archaeologists and artists has produced similar projects in London, Rome, Athens and other cities.

Incredible 360-degree virtual reality headset transports wearers back 2,000 years to ancient Jerusalem

By Phoebe Weston, April 2017. A virtual-reality app is transporting people back to Jerusalem under Roman rule in the first century. The programme includes a 3D virtual tour of the area around Jerusalem’s Western wall where the ancient walls of the city’s Temple Mount can still be seen. Using an app and portable virtual reality (VR) headset, visitors can compare modern-day life with a 360-degree construction of the city during the time of Christ. The programme, ‘Lithodomos VR’ is an android app that was developed by Simon Young, an archaeology doctoral student at the University of Melbourne. Visitors can use the VR headset to transport themselves to the ancient city when it was newly built under Herod I who was king of Judea from 74 BC- 4 BC (read more).

High Tech in the Holy Land

By Sara Toth Stub Dec 24, 2018. JERUSALEM — In the basement of an ancient fortress in Jerusalem, a set of stone steps peaks out of the ground. Archeologists believe that 2,000 years ago these steps were part of an ornate pool inside the palace of King Herod, the controversial figure who, according to the Christmas story, ordered the death of all baby boys following the birth of Jesus. Such lush beauty is hard to imagine among the dusty rocks here today. But put on a pair of virtual reality goggles and the rocks vanish, replaced by a refreshing pool, whose waters sparkle in the sunlight. Colorful tiles cover the floor, and nearby stands a white palace, one of many monumental structures Herod is credited with building here.

Thanks to virtual reality technology, tourists headed to the Holy Land over the holidays can get a glimpse of what Jerusalem looked like in Jesus’s era. A covered street selling modern souvenirs is transformed into a line of shops selling clay vessels; apartment buildings and hotels outside the city walls become empty desert; and the slope that contains Judaism’s revered Western Wall and Islam’s third-holiest mosque is replaced by a sprawling temple complex (read more).

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