Stunning digital reconstruction of the site of the ancient Olympic Games by Microsoft’s Augmented Reality app “Ancient Olympia: Common Grounds.” the project allows visitors to travel back in time, to the site of the Ancient Olympic Games and find Common Ground in values inspired by Ancient Olympia.
The digital revival project allows viewers around the world to explore the site of the Ancient Olympia as it was more than 2,000 years ago. It is an exciting experience through an interactive mobile app, the PC and the exhibition of Microsoft HoloLens 2 housed in the Olympic Museum of Athens.
The project restores digitally and in 3D a total of 27 monuments in the area, among them, a Gymnasium where athletes trained and a Stadium that was home to the Olympic Games in honor of Zeus, the Temples of Zeus and Hera, the workshop of Pheidias.
Digitally recording and accurately representing all the details of everyday life in Ancient Olympia was no small task. In the 3D experience, buildings are recreated in lifelike detail, painstakingly researched by the Hellenic Ministry’s expert archaeologists to be as true as possible to their original forms. This includes historical timelines of the site’s changes over time and depictions of artifacts from each period, the Microsoft notes.
“Today, 27 major monuments and many minor ones still stand in Ancient Olympia. Among them, the original Olympic Stadium. The temples of Zeus and Hera. The workshop of the renowned sculptor Phidias. These monuments survived thousands of years of weather, war, earthquakes, and modernization. They are meticulously conserved and restored by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. But they are in need of digital preservation as well, to ensure that all the evidence of the rich history and civil common ground values that the site was built upon is handed over to future generations,” the organizers said in a statement.
Through its AI for Cultural Heritage initiative, Microsoft partnered with technology company Iconem, which specializes in digitizing historic sites in 3D, to create the foundational model of Ancient Olympia. Using both on-the-ground cameras and drones to take hundreds of thousands of images of the site, Microsoft AI then processed the pictures to create models so precise, they render as photo-realistic, the company said.
Inaugurating the project on Wedneday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the project was discussed in January 2020 when he met with the president of Microsoft.
“The idea of working together on an emblematic project was put on the table. Microsoft agreed at once, embraced this idea and the place we chose is to my mind self-evident. Olympia, as a global symbol of universal human values. A place of worship, collective meeting, overcoming differences,” Mitsotakis said.
“Today we are making a first global step in showing how ancient civilization can meet technology. What I mostly hold on to is not so much the power of technology as the delight in the eyes of the students of the new high school at Ancient Olympia. I believe we are opening up new horizons as we transmit knowledge to the next generation. Making this experience visual is what makes it so unique. I believe it creates new avenues for the country for showcasing our cultural heritage,” the Prime Minister added.
One can download the Microsoft Augmented Reality app “Ancient Olympics at the Microsoft website here or at olympiacommongorunds.gr
Pictures, video via the Greek Culture Ministry.