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).