Greek Birthplace of Olympic Games to be Digitally Preserved

ATHENS — Greece and U.S. tech giant Microsoft have teamed up to digitally revive one of the ancient world’s most sacrosanct sites: the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The ambitious project uses technology to immerse viewers in the world of ancient Olympia.

The collaboration between Microsoft and the Greek Culture Ministry will allow millions of visitors to immerse themselves in an experience that organizers say brings history to life.

At a recent news conference in Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Microsoft officials said they used artificial intelligence to map the site, augmenting reality to help restore the sacrosanct location as it might have looked some 2,000 years ago.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitostakis attended the launch and said the project would revive Greece’s greatest commodity — its history.

“Technology is opening up a completely different way of experiencing what our culture is all about. And the project in Olympia is so important because it demonstrates the power of technology to not just look at the site, but also the lives of people, how societies were organized,” Mitostakis said.

Among the 27 monuments being featured are the original Olympic stadium, the temples of Zeus and Hera, and the workshop of the renowned sculptor Phidias.

Through data provided by Greek archaeologists, the sites are as close as possible to their original forms. In-person visitors are provided with smart glasses at the site so they can get an idea of what the locations would have looked like in ancient times. Visitors also see timelines of how the sites have changed over time, as well as depictions of artifacts from various periods.

Antigone Papanikolaou of Microsoft explained in a presentation.

“It’s like passing the flame from the old generations to the next. The fact that we can now go and experience how our predecessors were creating and living and seeing that as it was in ancient Greece, It’s amazing,” Papanikolaou said.

Organizers say people who are not able to visit the site in southern Greece will be able to take a virtual tour using a computer or mobile app. Critics tell The Associated Press that the program will extend “the invasive power” of U.S. tech giants.

Work on the ambitious project took 18 months, with drones and sensors being used to help map the sites.

Officials in Greece, a treasure trove of antiquities, say the cultural implications for the country are now endless.

Source: Voice of America