As you read this, I am standing beneath a marble statue of Julius Caesar, participating in an event that means a lot to me: the launch of the Ancient Rome 3D layer in Google Earth. Thanks to Google and the Rome Reborn Project, everyone in the world, from Rome itself to Calcutta, can now travel through time and discover Ancient Rome as it was 1,688 years ago when it was ruled by Emperor Constantine.

The project includes more than 6,700 buildings of Ancient Rome rebuilt in 3D — a true record. This accomplishment demonstrates how technology can be helpful in promoting culture and disseminating knowledge. Ancient Rome 3D is a great opportunity to rediscover the importance of Ancient Roman culture, which is at the base of the Italian, European and, more generally, Western identities. The archaeological heritage and the artistic monuments of the Roman Empire have found their way to many continents, but it is in the capital city (known in Roman times as Caput Mundi, which is Latin for "Capital of the World") that we can still find most of it. For example, architectural masterpieces like the Colosseum (considered one of the seven wonders of the world) have managed to withstand the tests of time — resisting sacks, invasions and world wars over the centuries and proving, with the immortality of their stones, the grandness of one of the most majestic empires that has ever existed.

What fascinates me most about this project is the accuracy of the details of the three-dimensional models. It's such a great experience to be able to admire the monuments, streets and buildings of Ancient Rome with a virtual camera that lets you go inside and see all the architectural details. From the Colosseum to the Ludus Magnus, from the Forum Caesar to the Arch of Septimius Severus, from the Rostra to the Basilica Julia, you can get up close to them all. The idea that virtual technologies now let people experience the city that I guide as it appeared in 320 A.D. fills me with pride — a pride that I inherited from Rome's glorious past.

(To find out more about the new layer, visit http://earth.google.com/rome/, watch the video tour below, or check out the Google Lat Long Blog.)



Update @ 12:10 PM: Rome wasn't built in a day! The Ancient Rome 3D layer will be available soon. We're sorry for the delay, and we'll post here when it's live.

Update @ 6:50 PM: The layer is now live in Google Earth, in the Gallery folder of the Layers panel. When you zoom in on Rome, you will see yellow Ancient Rome 3D icons. To load the terrain and buildings, click on any icon and then click the links at the bottom of the bubble.