NASA OrbView

NASA/GSFC: OrbView-2SeaWiFS 1 km DEM

Just as electronic cartography allows us to animate a sequence of maps, moving through time, so it allows us to view a point from many angles, moving through space - just as we do in walking or flying through a landscape. This allows a 3-dimensional appreciation of the position of a site and its significance. As more precise digital elevation models become available, matching the resolution of satellite imagery, these virtual models will become increasingly useful, rendering the art of map-reading (the imaginative reconstruction of 3-dimensional reality from a 2-dimensional paper representation) largely unnecessary.

VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language) is a standard language for interactive simulation within the World Wide Web. It has here been used to allow the viewer to interact with 3D geographical maps. One can walk or fly through the landscape with the possibility of examining it in detail. (You may also wish to compare these with Virtual Globes , an alternative means to view geographic data in 3 dimensions).

VRMLs are simple to use and commands can be given by either the computer mouse, or the keyboard. In order to view the following VRMLs, you will need to install a VRML-capable viewer. There are many different viewers available, for different platforms, including several plugins which will allow you to view the files within your web browser.


Getting started!

1. Install a VRML viewer. For a good list of viewers please see:

Note: we've tested these VRMLs with Blaxxun Contact for Windows (Manual) , and Cortona for Mac OS X.

2. Select a VRML landscape below (click on the icon). Please note that some of these VRMLs contain high resolution imagery and so may be slow to load or manipulate.

3. Use the viewer-specific controls to navigate or manipulate the view.

Controls - Blaxxun Contact for Windows:

Click Zoom: (Ctrl+Shift+F) then hold down the left-click on the mouse and move it forward (zoom in) and backward (zoom out)

Rotate: (Ctrl+Shift+E) then hold down the left-click on the mouse and move it around to rotate the 3D image

Use the mouse: right-click and choose Movement ► Examine or Fly

Controls - Cortona for Mac OS X:

Use the mouse: the left hand toolbox allows you to select the Examine, Fly modes



(Click on the thumbnail to access the VRML)


Chataloyuk Konya Plain (including Çatalhöyük) (See also: Çatalhöyük from space)
Thessaly Thessaly (including Argissa) (See also: Argissa from space)
Susa Susa (See also: Susa from space)
Kerkenes Kerkenes (See also: Kerkenes from space)
Mycenae Mycenae (See also: Mycenae from space)


How to cite this page: Andrew Sherratt and Francesco Menotti (2006), 'Sites and Landscapes in 3D (VRML images)', ArchAtlas, Version 4.1,, Accessed: 23 April 2014