Young and old alike now have the chance to wander the streets of ancient Jerusalem, after archaeologists recreated the city at the time of King Herod in a virtual reality headset.
Half a million pounds of investor funding helped created the Android app, called Lithodomos VR, based on the archaeology of Temple Mount in 20BC, before it was destroyed some 90 years later.
The app (at £1.59) and headset let the user experience market streets, the Western Wall, the temple precinct, and the Jewish and Roman period districts, with buildings virtually reconstructed based on the latest archaeological evidence.
Users get to choose their vantage points, with options including the modern-day street level. Through the eyes of the headset, this is on top of a 15m column, high above street-level as it was 2,000 years ago.
Herod, known as the King of Judea, rebuilt much of Jerusalem to become a Roman city, adding a fortress, hippodrome, theatre, amphitheatre and palace, but is perhaps best known for rebuilding the Western Wall, part of Jerusalem’s historic Temple complex, only for it to be destroyed in 70AD.
As well as the temple itself, the complex comprised a platform and wall, an inner enclosure, priest’s court (azarah), court of women (ezrat nashim), outer court, rachavah (paved square), stoa basilieia, and a court within the outer court. A bridge connected the southeast corner of the complex – housing plaza and shops – with the elite residential quarter in the upper city.
“Due to the importance of the site, three scenes have been created in order to give the viewer a rare insight into early first century AD Jerusalem,” said the company.
“The observer is able to witness a reconstructed Western Wall with Herodian courses, a street level view surrounded by archaeologically accurate reconstructed houses, and the bridge connecting two sections of the city.”