Flyover Zone Releases
"Rome Reborn: Pantheon"
Flyover Zone recently released a new virtual tour: “Rome Reborn: Pantheon.” We take you to one of the most iconic buildings in Rome: the Pantheon, still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world even 1900 years after it was constructed. The virtual reconstruction at the heart of the tour is based on the latest archaeological excavations and research. The tour recounts the Pantheon's history and ancient urban setting. It also examines the principles of architecture, design, and engineering that have made it a source of inspiration for architects since the Renaissance. Your guide is Dr. Alberto Prieto, a Rome-based archaeologist and professional educator. In this month's newsletter, our founder, Bernard Frischer, interviews Dr. Prieto.
~ ~ ~
Please tell us about yourself. How did you get interested in Roman archaeology?
My middle school made us study Latin for two years as a preparation for studying modern European languages in high school. As we learned Latin grammar we were also exposed to basic aspects of Roman civilization and history, to make the subject more interesting. Most of my classmates did not appreciate being made to study Latin, but I was hooked!

You're an American based in Italy. Why did you decide to move there?
During the course of my doctoral research at the University of Texas at Austin I spent almost every summer in Italy, participating in my department’s archaeological field projects and teaching the theory and methods of archaeology to the undergraduate volunteers. I’ve always wanted to be able to instill in students the same excitement and curiosity that Classical culture/civilization and history inspire in me, and my experience in Italy demonstrated to me that there is no substitute for teaching these subjects in situ (that is, in their original location).

What interests you most about the Pantheon?
The great late-nineteenth century Roman archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani once described the Pantheon as “the Sphinx of the Campus Martius,” and I think he got it exactly right: its completeness makes it seem approachable and even knowable, but when you begin to peer beyond the surface you realize that there is a lot it cannot—or will not—tell you about itself. Its meager presence in the ancient literary record makes it a perfect showcase for what the modern disciplines of archaeology and architectural history can reveal about the past. Who doesn’t love a good puzzle?!

You have given many tours of the Pantheon. What advantages do you think a virtual tour of the monument offers as compared to an actual visit?
In my opinion, the biggest advantage of the virtual tour is its permanence—all of the information is always available. When I take students to the Pantheon, I inevitably scramble or omit information, even whole topics, and the problem is even worse if I’m rushed or if there are distractions (as there almost always are…). Another significant advantage of the virtual tour is that it can be repeated as many times as a person wants, and repetition is essential for absorbing and retaining information.

Your virtual tour is packed with information about the Pantheon. Clearly, this is a well-researched monument. Are there any mysteries still remaining which you hope are someday cleared up?
Despite the limited but very clear evidence, there is still controversy over the form and orientation of the first version of the Pantheon built by Agrippa. Personally, I think this controversy could be resolved, or at least more clearly focused, by “reading” the subsurface of the Pantheon with geophysical prospection techniques such as ground-penetrating radar, magnetometry, and electrical resistance. (The more methods the better, since each one has strengths and weaknesses.) But I’m enough of a realist to know that it would be difficult to obtain a permit for a project of this scope.

Are you working on any other virtual tours at the moment?
Currently I’m working on four other virtual tours. I’m composing the script for “Rome Reborn: Baths of Caracalla,” which will be released in the fall. I’m also organizing the digital assets for a new version of “Rome Reborn: Basilica of Maxentius,” which was Flyover Zone’s first virtual tour (published in 2018). I’m also converting another older tour, “Hadrian’s Villa Reborn: South Theater,” for inclusion on Yorescape. At the same time I’m intensively researching the ancient Agora of Athens and will write the script for that virtual tour in the fall. “Athens Reborn: Agora” is scheduled to appear on Yorescape in winter 2023.

What virtual tour would you most like to help create in the future?
I would love to work on the Column of Trajan, in part because it is such a significant and interesting monument, in part because it would be a fun intellectual challenge to design a virtual tour of a vertically oriented structure.
Thank you for reading our newsletter!
Follow us on social media for daily updates.
Instagram: @flyover_zone
Facebook: @flyoverzone
Twitter: @flyover_zone
Copyright © 2022 Flyover Zone, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp