Virtual Mesopotamian Temple
For those of you who know me, you know I’m a big history nerd. Before I got into the gaming industry, I worked in the history museum field for eight years, primarily as an educator. The main reason I got into the gaming industry is because I see the potential of how video game technology and principles can be used to further history education. The first step into that world was a project I worked on a couple of years ago as a volunteer with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). FAS was recreating a Mesopotamian city in the virtual world, Second Life and I volunteered to be the designer, project manager, and subject matter expert for the project. I took my experience and skills from my museum background, threw in a strong dose of video game know-how and volia, the City of Gilgamesh was born. The idea behind the project was to create a virtual living history museum (think Colonial Williamsburg in a virtual setting) complete with re-enactors as avatars dressed in period-type clothing. The cool thing about this project was that its intention was that visitors would have the opportunity to join in on the fun. They could dress up and role play along with the re-enactors. Fun way to learn, eh? The educators that I met on Second Life went nuts for this idea. Unfortunately, FAS’s priorities shifted and the project came to an end. The concept still exisits, though. I am currently looking for partners to create another virtual living history museum.
Go ahead and bring this idea to its ultimate conclusion–a person could virtually visit any major place in history if enough of these types of museums are made. The good thing about it is that it is a lot less expensive than a real life living history museum or a video game. This idea has tremendous potential.
The temple can be seen in Second Life in the slurl below. You’ll need an account in Second Life to see it (its free!)
Here’s a few screens of the temple.
Outside the Principle Shrine. The city god’s resting place was inside.
The Temple Archives. Mesopotamians invented writing. The temple’s transactions were recorded on clay tablets and stored here.
The kitchen. The temple was the home of a god. They were served meals daily. What wasn’t eaten was consumed by the priest. Nice life, huh?
The weaver workshop. Textiles were the main export of Mesopotamia. Women were primarily employed in this role.
Inside the Principal Shrine. The idol is Inanna/Ishtar- the goddess of sexual love and war.
The temple was also featured as a way of understanding Islam using virtual worlds. I hadn’t thought of it like that, but the recreation of the temple is certainly a way for people to appreciate the history of the middle east (Mesopotamia is pretty much where modern Iraq is today). With all that is going on, its nice to be able to contribute in a small way. Our segment starts at 1:30. I actually don’t know who the archaeolgist that is featured. I never met her before, but I suppose I should have. She was the consulting subject matter expert for FAS for Mesopotamia. Heh.
I also have a couple of papers I want to share. This one is a call-to-arms on why virtual living history museums would be effective ways to teach history, how they should be made, and what you can do with them. Check back soon for a paper on the research behind the recreation.