Walk Around the Ancient World

I have always been fascinated with maps; the older the better. As a child, I remember looking at pictures of maps from the age of discovery and seeing the mythical creatures that were scattered throughout the unknown regions at the edges. I thought about the adventure and daring of the men who went out into that unknown land and lived to return and tell about it.

New technology offers exciting possibilities. As more work has been done, we now have the opportunity to stroll down the street in ancient Rome, or even fly over Rome in an F-16 if you choose. (When I did this in Google Earth I ended up crashing into the Coliseum.)

Besides computer bugs, we no longer have to fear the creatures at the edge of the map.

So, here are a few of the best tours of the ancient world.


This project has now been discontinued due to contractual agreements with the data provider. 

Google Earth, in coordination with the University of Virginia, has put together one of the most impressive maps ever created. A digital version of ancient Rome featuring over 5,000 buildings. You can download and overlay this right over the current city of Rome and even drop in under the ancient layer to see what lies on those sites today.

Rome overview

Overview of Rome


Closeup of the Front of the ColiseumMore in line with traditional maps, researchers are putting together one of the most ancient jigsaw puzzles; the Forma Urbis map. This 2,200 year old massive map of Rome detailed the entire city. It was destroyed, but fragments have been found, and Stanford has been working on putting them together. They have a database showing 3d computer models of all 1,186

Closeup of the front of the Coliseum

Closeup of the front of the Coliseum

surviving fragments.

Recently there has been some good news on this front, as new pieces may come to light as a construction project gets underway in Rome.


Google continues to impress with the street view version of Pompeii. You’d better have a fast internet connection, but this is the next best thing to being there yourself.




Antioch Overview

Dr. Kayhan Kaplan of the Mustafa Kemal University in Hatay, Turkey has put together digital imagery of ancient Antioch on the Orontes. This is the city Paul and Barnabas considered to be a home base, leaving from and returning to the church there after each missionary journey.





Now you can also see the trade networks: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/ancient-antioch-visualizing-antioch%E2%80%99s-trade-networks-with-google-earth/?mqsc=E3718274&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=BHDDailyNewsletter&utm_campaign=E4B109



While certainly not as impressive as Google Maps, this modest effort to show models and sites of the ancient city of Jerusalem is nonetheless fun to explore.





Google Earth and Google street view have some interesting imagery of the pyramids. While they have not done the work here that has been done on Rome or Pompeii, it is still fun to fly around the pyramids.