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Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

University of Reading via FutureLearn


Explore ancient Rome through a unique, historically accurate 3D model.

Take a guided tour around ancient Rome with expert Professor Matthew Nicholls, using his detailed and award-winning 3D digital model of the city. Explore Rome’s architecture and how it was used - how did Romans worship their gods and meet their political masters? How was drinking water supplied to the city’s million inhabitants? Moving seamlessly between footage of contemporary Rome and the digital model (including interactive elements), you’ll explore these questions and much more.

Use this insight to inform your own encounters with the eternal city and the study of ancient history more generally.

This course is open to anyone with an interest in discovering more about ancient Rome. You might be: planning a visit to the Italian capital; an avid watcher of documentaries on Roman history; or considering studying archaeology, classics or history at university.

Taught by

Matthew Nicholls

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5.0 rating, based on 23 reviews

Start your review of Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

  • Anonymous
    This history course will take you to a place in your mind that is out of this world! It begins at the time of the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar in the Roman Republic at about 20BC and ends in the Roman Empire in about AD400. You will not be learning...
  • Linda Baynes
    This stunning course was presented with dedication and passion. It had a fascinating choice of content and the videos of (real) Rome brought it to life.

    It also incorporated a 3D model of the ancient city - amazing! - which you could wander through at will. This brought the (virtual) city to life.

    If all teachers and lecturers shared the skills of this presenter, we would be a better educated people.

    A big round of applause for all those who helped with the course!
  • Anonymous
    If it was possible to award more stars for this course, I definitely would. The amount of work I imagine must have been involved in producing it is phenomenal. The lectures are recorded and presented in Rome by Professor Matthew Nicholls who generously...
  • Anonymous
    This wonderful course was amazingly informative. Due not to only to the detailed research, the explanations offered by Dr. Matthew and his team but the audio, video and modeling elements made this an incredibly valuable learning resource. Years of...
  • Anonymous
    It was a wonderful course. Matthew gave us a vivid insight into the lives of ancient Romans from the great emperors down to the lowest slave. All this was illustrated with detailed computerised visualisations of the city as it would have been at the height of the Roman Empire. His knowledge of Rome took us on many visits to the modern city at the same time relating it to the ancient city upon which it has been built. The course was detailed with displays of ancient coins minted at the time of the Emperors, and even poetry and music of that time were explored. I learned a lot about ancient Rome during the five weeks and I was sorry when it ended.
  • Anonymous
    My work at an experimental archaeological site includes Public visiting and school classes, so I found this course invaluable for my own study purposes and to enhance the knowledge I already had.

    Although my work focuses upon Roman Britain the course was invaluable background information on Roman architecture and way of life of the City’s inhabitants.
    The 3D images were invaluable and brought Ancient Rome ‘alive’

    I now want to visit Rome to experience the sites for myself.
    Thank you to the Universy of Reading staff and other Institutions involved in this superb Course.

  • Anonymous
    This was a fascinating course, led with great passion and expertise by Matthew Nicholls. The range of material was impressive: site visits, the 3D model, use of coins, literature, inscriptions, conversations with other experts. Each week had a clear theme and logical structure. I really enjoyed Week 5 with its focus on ‘circuses’. What surprised me most was the amount of information that can be gleaned from the study of Roman coins. While I found the 3D model a bit hard to navigate, I became more adept as the course proceeded and I enjoyed my trip to the Colosseum!
  • Sande Jennings
    This course was excellent great introduction and each module revealed more about the Emperors, the people, the music,

    poetry, food of times, the buildings, and innovations in civil engineering that survive today. Combination of new technology and talks by different experts in the fields of food, music, design were thoroughly enjoyed. I would love to see a course on early Greece as there was such an incorporation of Greek techniques into their arts, crafts. I would sign up immediately. Thank you to everyone both Course leaders, and course members.
  • Anonymous
    it was very well planned. There were texts from poets, philosophers, politicians from the different periods of Rome. There were interviews with local curators and museum directors, explanations of the different aspects of Roman life, their buildings, coins, food, celebrations, and commercial life. The 3D reproductions of the temples, circus, dwellings, gardens, and markets were thoroughly detailed and could be seen from 360 |screen touring. It was an amazing journey and contrasted topresent films and interviews
  • Anonymous
    It was a magical journey back in time and I feel so sad it's over!
    For the last five weeks, for a few hours each day -or night, or after midnight, for that matter- I could close my world outside my study's door and travel back in legendary Rome.
    This journey helped me understand many things about the origins of our modern world.
    Thank you, Dr Nicholls for all the hard work that you shared with us.
  • Anonymous
    This class was informative. I enjoyed seeing the ancient ruins, coins and poems. The 3d models were helpful. The teachers were easy to understand and made the class enjoyable. I enjoyed participating in the comments section with others taking the class. I highly recommend this class for anyone wanting more information on ancient Rome and the palaces, coliseum and the emperors.
  • Anonymous
    This was an excellent course delivered over five weeks. Matthew was an extremely engaging and enthusiastic presenter who made the subject so fascinating. His models of the ancient City helped to bring it to life. He also presented alternative views of Rome, from poetry and examining coins which deepened our understanding. Highly recommended.
  • Anonymous
    I have studied 12 or so MOOCs and this is a stellar and exemplary course, delightfully presented, beautifully filmed, revelatory, varied, informative, innovative and rigorous. An utter joy from start to finish. How we miss travel in these COVID days! My deepest thanks and congratulations to Prof. Nicholls and his team.
  • Anonymous
    This was an excellent course. The team at Reading University put together a wonderful course. The digital model created by Professor Mathew Nichols was a superb way of putting the learner at the heart of Ancient Rome. He is an engaging and knowledgeable tutor and the course was a very good introduction to the subject.
  • Anonymous
    This is an absolutely brilliant course. The content was extremely accessible, very well explained in multiple ways, and rooted not just in the buildings themselves but in other relevant sources.

    Many thanks for the opportunity to take this course, and for the enormous amount of work put into it by everyone involved.
  • Anonymous
    I highly recomend to do this course on Ancient Rome. You will learn on different aspects of the Ancient Romans: housing, aqueducts, tombs, religion, mythology, art, monuments, food, entertainment, temples, music, politics, literature and more. The explanations are clear and there are plenty of interesting material.
  • Anonymous
    I highly recomend to do this course on Ancient Rome. You will learn on different aspects of the Ancient Romans: housing, aqueducts, tombs, religion, mythology, art, monuments, food, entertainment, temples, music, politics, literature and more. The explanations are clear and there are plenty of interesting material.
  • Anonymous
    An extremely interesting and well put together course full of lovely videos and amazing 3D models. Matthew is a very engaging presenter and his passion for his subject is infectious. I have completed lots of Futurelearn courses just for my own amusement and this is without doubt the best so far.
  • Anonymous
    An insightful course into the city of Rome. The 3D model brings it Alice and allows you to walk through the virtual buildings.

    The course is a good pace and includes plenty of videos, materials to read an£ of course the opportunity to walk ‘virtually’ around Ancient Rome.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course, very well organized with beautiful videos, it exposes novel topics such as the music and food of the common Romans. The 3D model of Dr. Nicholls is impressive and his explanations are great.

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