Dear History Lovers, Learn More About These Historic Places from Your Home

I realize that some places have reopened so we can visit them. But, in order to help flatten the curve, we should still visit places like museums or galleries from our own houses. Besides, virtual tours are usually free, so we don’t have to spend a lot of money travelling, am I right?

But anyways, here are some places available for virtual tours for those of you who love history, archaeology, and the likes.

1. Tomb of Menna in the Theban Necropolis

The entrance of the Tomb of Menna © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)
The entrance of the Tomb of Menna © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

The tomb of Menna, dated to the 18th dynasty (about 1549 B.C to 1292 B.C.), is “one of the most visited and best preserved” from the era. We still don’t know much about Menna, but the tomb’s decorations suggest that this person was a scribe in charge of the pharaoh’s fields and the temple of sun god Amun-Re.

Menna’s tomb also includes informational features such as paintings of the scribe’s family, including his wife Henuttawy and their five children. All of the paintings of Menna have been defaced, interestingly.

“The ancient Egyptians believed that the soul of a person inhabited paintings of them and destroying the face would ‘deactivate’ the image. Why would someone want to destroy the memory of Menna?” the tour notes.

The tomb also served as a point of communication with the dead. It once featured life-size statues of Menna and Henuttawy that family members could make offerings to, ask for favors or visit during festivals.

To do the virtual tour, go here.

2. Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition

an artifact from Pompeii that you might find in the virtual exhibition. Photo by The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum via Wikimedia Commons
an artifact from Pompeii that you might find in the virtual exhibition. Photo by The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum via Wikimedia Commons

Apparently, the British Museum had a 2013 exhibition titled “Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum” and I didn’t know that. Well, for those of you who missed it in person (like me), we’re in luck. The London cultural institution has streamed a previously recorded tour of the groundbreaking show and we can now enjoy it via YouTube for free.

In the film, presenters Bettany Hughes and Peter Snow guide audiences through a private tour of the 2013 show’s highlights. There are reenactment footage, expert commentary, and live performances. The 88-minute feature tells the story of daily life in the neighboring cities, revealing how Mount Vesuvius’ 79 A.D. eruption transformed the communities in just 24 hours.

“Pompeii and Herculaneum let us shine a very bright and intriguing light onto the world of ancient Rome, from its posh palaces to its mean streets, from the slaves to the grandees, from the luxurious dining to the cheap takeaways—and the sex and the lavatories,” said historian Mary Beard.

The 2013 exhibition showed more than 200 artifacts from archaeological sites at Pompeii and lesser-known Herculaneum, offering viewers a lens into the pair of seaside settlements prior to the eruption.

3. Exploring Melckmeyt without having to dive

In October 1659, the Dutch merchant vessel Melckmeyt was preparing to sail from Iceland to Amsterdam when a violent storm hit.

Crew members, one of whom died in the process, spent two days trying to stop the ship from sinking, but their efforts were in vain. Mariner’s life is sure hard as heck.

Because of the storm, the ship, still loaded with cargo, plunged to the bottom of the frigid waters off Iceland’s Flatey Island. As if that’s not enough of suffering, the surviving crewmen were stranded for the winter.

Local divers first discovered the remnants of the wreck in 1992. Though much of the ship had decayed over the centuries, its lower hull was incredibly well preserved.

To mark the 360th anniversary of the Melckmeyt’s demise, archaeologists have launched a virtual reality experience that lets users explore the wreckage as it appears today.

What makes Melckmeyt (Dutch for milkmaid) so intriguing than other shipwrecks? It is the oldest known and identified shipwreck in Icelandic waters, and it offers a rare example of a flute ship—vessels that once filled the Baltic Sea, which were once the backbone of the wealth of the Netherlands.

Vessels like these are found in a lot of paintings, but an intact shipwreck of them is rare. That’s why experts are interested at this ship.

For the longest time, Melckmeyt’s remains are simply skilled divers’ treasure. Thanks to technology, we can do it for free via an interactive YouTube video, and we don’t have to be able to dive or plunge ourselves in the freezing North Atlantic sea.

The video which you can see here is only 3 minutes long, and it’s not as in depth as Titanic. But hey, with all that advantages, it’s a win for me.

4. Medieval castles’ digital reconstruction

Dunnottar Castle by Herbert Frank Wikimedia Commons
Dunnottar Castle by Herbert Frank Wikimedia Commons

Okay, this one’s not exactly a place, but we can see the digital reconstruction of some cool medieval castles.

London-based creative agency NeoMam Studios recently released animated images of seven medieval-era castle ruins digitally restored to their prime.

Working on behalf of Australian insurance company Budget Direct, the design team created the images with input from architects who studied old blueprints, paintings and other miscellaneous documents.

My favorite is probably Dunnottar Castle because it’s the most fancy-looking, in my opinion.

It’s best known as the fortress that William Wallace and his Scottish forces reclaimed from English occupation in 1297. But the site’s foundations were first set in Pictish times, or between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D.

The earliest stone structures still standing today were built in the 1300s by Sir William Keith. But the British government seized the castle from the Keiths in 1715, when Earl Marischal George Keith was convicted of treason for taking part in a failed uprising, and in 1717, its new owners, the York Mining Company, removed everything of value from the property.

It’s unfortunate what happened to this castle, but I still think the place is pretty, and I’m glad NeoMam studios reconstructed it. See those castles here.

5. The tomb of Meresankh III

Here’s another tomb for you who likes Egyptian history. Dated to some 5,000 years ago, this is the oldest of the Egyptian sites available as a virtual walkthrough.

Meresankh, a queen wed to King Khafre, was the daughter of Prince Kawab and Hetepheres II of the fourth dynasty, and the granddaughter of Great Pyramid builder Cheops, also known as Khufu.

Harvard archaeologist George Andrew Reisner discovered the queen’s tomb in 1927. Today, the burial place’s paintings and carvings remain well-preserved, showcasing hunters catching water birds, bakers making triangular loaves of bread and servants holding offerings.

In the northern chamber, along the wall furthest from the virtual tour’s starting point, ten statues of women stand shoulder to shoulder.

The statues “serve to emphasize Meresankh’s position among her queenly relatives,” the tour explains. Along the path to the 16-foot-deep burial shaft, users pass a pair of statues depicting Meresankh and her mother, Hetepheres II, with their arms around each other.

Go to the tomb of Meresankh III yourself here.


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