The Mummies Return

By Jim Regan csmonitor. com | The Christian Science Monitor, September 7, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Mummies Return

Jim Regan csmonitor. com, The Christian Science Monitor

When I first started writing reviews for this space, about seven years ago, one of the first websites I covered was the Theban Mapping Project. This online record of the excavation of "KV 5" (the largest Pharaonic tomb ever found in Egypt, with over 100 corridors and chambers) became such a popular destination for virtual Egyptologists that it was receiving some 18 million hits per year. Since that time, the Project launched a major revision of its site - expanding its focus from a single tomb to the entire Valley of the Kings, and coincidentally, illustrating just how far the Web has come as a teaching tool in a relatively short time.

If you visited the original KV 5 site, you'll find a very different presentation in the new version - so different that it is, to all intents and purposes, an entirely new creation. Even the domain name has been changed from to, reflecting the wider mandate of the new site. (In fact, the old site did include some exploration beyond KV5, but the coverage is infinitely more complete now.) If you've never seen the original site or would like to refresh your memory, and are sufficiently curious about the differences between new and old, you can still, shall we say, 'unearth' the original, with the kind assistance of the WebArchive.

(So what do you call it when you can use a virtual archaeology site to conduct virtual archaeology on a virtual archaeology site? Webeology? Archwebology? Toomuchfreetimeology?)

But for the present, let's concentrate on the more recent survey of Egypt's past. Front and center on the current index page is the new Atlas of the Valley of the Kings - a Flash-based masterpiece that allows surfers to explore every known tomb in the Valley in staggering detail. Upon launch (taking a little less than two minutes on a dial-up modem), the Atlas takes the visitor through an animated zoom which situates the Valley's location within Egypt, and opens the first page of the Atlas with a map marking every tomb located to date. An introductory movie awaits newcomers (along with the option of a transcript and still images for those hampered by high traffic or slow connections), and visitors can move on to specific tombs by clicking on the map.

The Atlas window uses a tabbed interface, so that at any time during explorations, the visitor can switch between an Overview of the chosen location (whether that be a specific tomb, or the Valley as a whole), a more detailed Description of the area, or a Maps and Plans view of the current selection. The Description tab offers click-and-zoomable 3-D wireframes of the selected spaces, a text liberally hyperlinked to an illustrated glossary, an extraordinary Image & Media collection, and Related Links. The Maps and Plans tab features interactive, three-axis, blueprint-style renderings with drag-and-zoom capabilities - and for a sense of scale, the ability to measure the distance between any two points onscreen. (In meters, feet, and of course, cubits.)

Choose a specific tomb, and the Atlas centers it on the main screen and loads a new introductory film, a cartouche complete with translation of the owner's title, and a new set of data behind the various tabs. In fact every time you choose, not just a tomb, but any specific part of a tomb, subsections under the Description tab recalibrate themselves to only include data from the areas visible in the wireframe window.

At any time while surveying a Descriptions page, a square button on the upper left of the window will allow you to take a step back in your explorations. (Mouseover zooms out temporarily for a quick reorientation - clicking reloads the previous image.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Mummies Return


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?