Rome Stillborn 1.0
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Before news reports of the unveiling yesterday of a digital reconstruction of Rome circa A.D. 320 swept through the wires, we have always imagined the city to have contained people. And also trees, villa gardens, roving animals and kids, garbage, loose bricks and faded paint, pornographic graffiti, inclement weather, migraine-inducing smells and noises, sewage and stormwater underfoot, and prostitutes and their pimps — all swirling together in the urban vortex.
Enlightened as we are now by Rome Reborn 1.0, we realize how fundamentally wrong we were. Walking through the streets of the city back then wasn't really like walking now through the jumbled street maze of Varanasi, that frenetic, sometimes stultifying, temple-field Hindu holy city on the banks of the Ganges in India. In actuality, “the state of our knowledge about the urban topography of ancient Rome” tells us that it was verifiably spacious, its architecture pristine, the center of the world inhabited by no one.
And “about how the city looked,” “students or the general public” will be taught that navigating through “the alignment of built features in the city” was a breath of fresh air with cool winds tickling your hairy arms, the sun safely lighting your back to fend off murderers, thieves and whores, and the soothing operatic sounds of modern Europe drowning out the howls and the din of ancient city life.
Of course, we could be wrong and might not yet have heard that the reconstruction team, realizing that no new insights can be gained from their expensive simulation without the everyday physical marks of urban habitation, or urban violence, will be bringing in game designers from EA for v2.0.
SimRome 2007®. See how Romans bath; their shit flowing through the sewers; molest their slave boys while taking pointers from those Third Style porno-frescoes decorating the atrium; move from one temple to another temple to yet another temple offering gifts, etc.
Anyway, they will be hoping that the all-powerful Soprintendente will not send letters to all parties angrily demanding an apology for the use of archaeological sites as a backdrop for their violent simulations.