The expansion of the “Digital Age” has prompted Google to develop a way for the everyday tech junkie to discover the world – straight from the comfort of his or her bed. With the support of organizations such as UNESCO and the World Monuments Fund, the multinational corporation now brings us the World Wonders Project, a platform that highlights ancient and modern heritage sites from across the globe.
In doing so, Google eagerly takes on the role of a knowledgeable tour guide, faithfully accompanying would-be adventurers on virtual “Street View Tours” to places around the world, from the Teotihuacan and Chichen monuments in Mexico to the ruins of Pompeii in Italy. This week, Google has also expanded its digital exhibition hall to include panoramic photo tours of some of Egypt’s most majestic sites, including the Pyramids of Giza, the Pyramid of Djoser and the Great Sphinx.
In order to access these remote locations, a bicycle-based system – essentially a tricycle equipped with cameras — was specifically designed to travel to places inaccessible by a car. Thus, as cyclists traverse through trails, archaeological sites, and historic monuments, a collection of photographs are continuously taken to document the surroundings. The images are then stitched together to create the panoramic 360-degree views that you see on the Street Views tours.
The ultimate aim of this project is to inspire actual, physical travel, by opening a window to the world. By doing so, Google hopes to provide an innovative, interactive way for students and scholars alike to experience some of the most beautiful sites and understand its history.
Furthermore, the project also serves as a valuable resource for cultural and historical preservation. An Egyptian advocacy group, Egypt’s Heritage Task Force, can adamantly testify about this necessity. Recently, the group has raised concerns about the 4,600-year-old Pyramid of Djoser, a step pyramid that’s currently considered the world’s oldest stone structure of its size. After a decade of restoration attempts, the exterior and interior of the landmark appear to have suffered significant damage – despite reassurances by Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty, suggesting otherwise.