One of the highlights of Skyscrapernews TV schedules right now is the sword and sandals BBC / HBO joint production of Rome.
With its retelling of Roman History, albeit dramatically enhanced for a better plot, the authenticity of life under the Caesars is vividly retold. The success of the show which was commissioned for a second series after only one was originally planned, shows how much the public are still interested in what was one of the greatest civilisations of all time.
The city of Rome itself remains a draw with tourists attracted to the Collesium and Forum but most of that has been lost thanks to centuries of war and looting leaving tourists to wander around a few sparse ruins with little more than their imagination.
Soon this could all change if the Institute for Advanced Technology at the University of Virginia gets their way by opening up the long lost imperial Rome to a whole generation of people via the latest advanced mapping techniques.
The project called Rome Reborn has involved the huge scale model of Plastico di Roma Antica at the zenith of its development, June the 21st 320 A.D as the first step of what will be a digital model charting the evolution from late Bronze Age all the way to the final collapse of Rome at the conclusion of the Gothic Wars.
Once the actual physical model was build the researchers then scanned it using the latest equipment and combined the results with topographic surveys of today's Rome which allowed them to build up a fully three dimensional model of the entire city from tip to toe.
The buildings were then checked for their detail and textured as necessary with decorations and frescos to make it a more visually immersive experience.
The end result is a 3d computerised city with a population of over one million and recreations of some of the most famous buildings of antiquity including the Arch of Constantine, the Circus Maximus, the Claudian aqueduct and Bath of Trajan.
What this means is that in the longer term the researchers can make the model available to the public, perhaps via something like Google Earth although the sheer amount of bandwidth needed to run something of this detail would require a hefty connection.
Another option is Second Life where developer Linden Labs has reportedly expressed an interest in licensing a version that their users could play and help raise money for the continuing evolution of the academic side of the project at the same time.
Perhaps soon we can all pretend to be Titus Pullo cutting the hands off Cicero and nailing them to the Senate door, Brutus delivering the final blow to Caesar or working out just which of the enemy is Spartacus.