"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Thursday, September 06, 2018

Museum Inaugurates Virtual Reality Walking Tours of Ancient Jerusalem

Nearly twenty years ago when I first became a Mason, the hot topic at the time was how newly emerging computer graphics might soon be used to illustrate our lectures. It would be the next logical step after the old tracing boards, magic lanterns with their glass slides, Kodak Carousel slide projectors, and Power Point presentations. We often chatted about the possibilities of VR Middle Chamber lectures and presentations of Solomon's Temple.

Jump ahead two decades, and the technology has finally caught up with the dream.

Israel's Tower of David in Jerusalem is home to a unique museum that vividly illustrates the long history of that legendary city using modern technology. Opened in 1989, the Tower of David Museum presents the main events of the city’s history in chronological sequence, beginning with the first evidence of the existence of a city in the Second Millennium BC, and ending with modern Jerusalem becoming the capital of the State of Israel. It is located in the medieval guardrooms of Jerusalem’s Ottoman-era citadel and stands at the entrance to the Old City. 

Of special interest to Freemasons is their exhibit of the First Temple Period, beginning in 1006 BC. It depicts the city’s designation as capital by King David, its prosperity under the rule of King Solomon, and its establishment as an administrative and religious center. Central is the construction of the Temple on Mount Moriah that plays such an important part of Masonic ritual and symbolism.

This month the Tower of David Museum will launch a new and unique virtual reality guided tour of the Old City that steps outside of the confines of its building and actually out into the city's streets. While the new VR tour depicts Jerusalem in the later Second Temple period (built by Zerubbabel in 516 BC) of King Herod, it promises to be a game changer in the realm of bringing ancient archeological sites to life for visitors.

From the Times of Israel today, "Virtual reality tour brings ancient Jerusalem to life":
The virtual reality guide, “Step into History,” offers visitors a chance to “walk in the streets of Jerusalem and enjoy the present and take a look back to the past,” said Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber.

Working with archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Lithodomos VR created 360-degree simulations of how Jerusalem’s citadel, palaces, streets and ancient Jewish Temple are believed to have appeared during its heyday under King Herod in the first century BCE and during the life of Jesus.
Herod, a Roman vassal who ruled Judaea from 37-4 BCE, invested heavily in large construction projects across his realm, including a major expansion of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the fortress and palace where the Tower of David stands today. His monuments, including the mountaintop fortress at Masada and the port city of Caesarea, are among the most visited sites in Israel.
“Especially with Jerusalem, I think the biggest challenge was getting it right,” said Simon Young, founder of Lithodomos VR, an Australian startup. “There’s a lot of different opinions about how Jerusalem looked in the ancient world… Of course, we want to do justice to Jerusalem and to make it as accurate as possible.”
Lithodomos VR’s team of archaeologists and artists has produced similar projects in London, Rome, Athens and other cities.
The Tower of David Museum also houses an innovation lab in a chamber at the top of a Herodian-era keep that once served as the chambers of Jerusalem’s Ottoman governor. The lab, launched in October 2017, hosts startups such as Lithodomos VR that are developing technologies to enhance visitor experience, with a particular emphasis on virtual and enhanced reality. The site also holds an elaborate light show that projects moving images in intricate detail on the ancient walls of the Old City.
Accompanied by a guide, visitors will be able explore nine vantage points in the city, starting at the citadel — an Ottoman-era fortress built atop remnants of several earlier bastions — then meandering through the Old City’s Jewish Quarter down toward the remains of the Second Jewish Temple. In order to keep from crashing into modern Jerusalem, visitors carry the goggles between sites, then put them on once they are stationary.
At each point, a narrator explains the historical significance of the structures they can see in the goggles: the columned marketplace of the Cardo, the heart of the ancient city; the soaring towers of Herod’s citadel; the opulent pools of his pleasure palace; and the Temple. The VR tour around the Old City takes approximately two hours, the museum said.
The tour is confined to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. The Old City lies in East Jerusalem — an area captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and claimed by the Palestinians as their future capital. Israel rejects any division of the Old City — home to Jerusalem’s most sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites.


  1. That is nice. But I want the science of VR to go full super nova! I would like to be able to call up a buddy who lives a thousand miles away and say, meet me at the top of Seoul Tower (I have been there in actual reality and it is breathtaking) for dinner and conversation in full interactive VR.

    OR meet me for a ride (this should be on everyone's bucket list if you have not actually done it) thru the streets of San Francisco on the Cable Car.

    Or meet me for a walk along the beautiful Amsterdam canal of the Netherlands. (Bucket list material, well worth the effort).

    Or how about a VR Cafe for dating? Where young people and old could interact VIRTUALLY in real time before Actually.

    Or how about meeting me at the Grand Lodge of Japan via VR, for Lodge, right now, tonight.

    Can it be done?

  2. Years ago I visited a lodge held in a computer shop in Mexico after hours, and the members all had a computer station. I didn't see the advantage and in fact it was awkward. Now things have moved on and Brother Johnson suggests where we may be going. Just how this will be worked into the ritual by some lodges -- well, maybe decor can change like in Bill Gates' house where art can come and go on the walls.


Comments will not appear immediately, so be patient. I am forced to laboriously screen every post because I am constantly bombarded with spam. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers as far as I am concerned. If you post with an unknown or anonymous account, do not expect to see your comment appear.