Saturday, March 15, 2008

Visualizing History

As a student, I could say without a doubt that the subject I always hated the most was history.

The funny thing is that, nowadays, I'm completely fascinated by the past. I always check out The History Channel & I've posted about historical stuff alot on this blog. I'm always reading at least one book and they're often about ancient cultures or some historical theme.

I think the reason history turned me off so much when I was younger was that there was very little visual stimulation & mental interactivity involved in the lessons. From what I remember, the emphasis was on cold facts: names, events, & dates. The truly interesting aspects of society, however, are the arts, the myths, the living situations- the 'human' details that really put us into the experience of that culture.

I've found that the most invaluable tools for learning are 3D visualizations that are now possible using ever-improving rendering software. Seeing a visual representation of ancient Rome, or watching a movie like Apocalypto that's set in an ancient Mayan city gives a strikingly clear view of life in that time period. This is simply not achievable by reading words about it in a book.

One of my favorite shows is "Engineering an Empire" because of the quality of the show's 3D renderings of both art & architecture that have been lost to time.

Here are some great links I've found to sites about the virtual re-creation of historic places:

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