The ancient world on the web

Archaeology buffs and staycationers have a new way to explore the world’s ancient civilizations and monuments.

The Heritage Key site offers an amazing 3D tour of King Tut’s treasure, plus piles of photos of the Pyramids, Stonehenge, and the rest of the ancient world’s greatest hits. There are also blogs and articles by regular bloggers and leading experts. Videos of excavations and interviews with archaeologists will keep you informed of the latest things happening in the past. There are some big names on here like Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass and English historian John Julius Norwich.

There’s even a function where you can make your own avatar to explore online exhibitions. I’ve never seen the point of avatars, and I don’t see the point here, but the graphics are cool and people who are into that sort of thing will probably love it.

The site, which was launched last month, is free at the moment, but there are plans to make both free and premium sites once it gets off the ground. The system is pretty seamless and there’s already lots of content, so it looks like this site is going places.

Of course no website, no matter how snappy, can compete with seeing the real thing. I remember the first time I saw the Great Pyramid at Giza. I didn’t know it was so close to the edge of Cairo and as we headed into the suburbs on a minibus I wondered if I could see the pyramids yet. I looked out the window and saw nothing but this brown haze.

“Wow,” I thought. “I wonder if that’s a sandstorm.”

A second later I realized that it wasn’t sand, but the side of the pyramid. It was taking up my entire field of view! I craned my neck out the window and peered up to see the pyramid’s apex framed against a clear blue Saharan sky. That was twenty years ago and I still remember it like it happened this morning.

Try getting that from a website.