When Google introduced the new Ancient Rome 3D layer last month there was a problem. The problem was the building models were derived from very complex data and the resulting 3D models in Google Earth were still too complicated for most computers to handle. I did some testing and it was clear in some cases a single building in Ancient Rome had tens to hundreds of thousands of polygons (a typical 3D building model in Google Earth may only have a few dozen or a couple of hundred polygons). It was little wonder there were many complaints that the new layer was too slow for most people to really use.
Well this past week, Google pushed out new improved Ancient Rome 3D models where the models have been simplified a great deal. I haven’t seen an announcement yet, but I found out last week the models were much better. It still can take a few minutes to load the terrain and buildings (depending on your Internet connection and computer). But, I’m able to run the new layer on my Mac Book Pro laptop and fly around and look at the buildings much more fluidly than before. Building polygon counts are much better now.
How to view the Ancient Rome 3D Layer in Google Earth
Turn off the “3D Buildings” layer and other layers which might interfere with your view
Turn on the Ancient Rome 3D layer found under the Gallery layer folder
Enter “Rome” in the “Fly to” window and zoom in until you see the yellow placemark icons
Open one of the yellow placemark icons where you will see information about that building(s).
Look at the bottom of the description in the placemark bubble for “Download Terrain and 3D Building models of Ancient Rome“. Below that, click on “Ancient Terrain (Load First)“. This loads the terrain from ancient rome and hides the underlying current view of the city. It may take a few minutes (depending on your Internet connection)
Open another yellow placemark and look for the next link (after the terrain one) which says “Ancient Rome Landmarks (250 buildings)“. After waiting another couple of minutes (again depending on your connection), you should be able to start moving around and looking at the buildings.
If you’re really ambitious, and have a powerful computer, open the third link “Ancient Rome Buildings” to load another several thousand more simplified buildings to load all the models from the Ancient Rome collection. I was able to do it on a gaming machine I have at home.
To really view the city, you need to know how to navigate in Google Earth. Here are some tips on navigating in Google Earth from the user guide. If you happen to have a SpaceNavigator, you have the ultimate ability to fly around to see the city with Google Earth.
If you were frustrated with how hard it was to load Ancient Rome when it came out last month, give it a try again. It’s still not as simple as the built-in 3D Buildings layer. But, the experience of learning, and seeing, ancient Rome come to life is worth it. The placemark descriptions and links to further information are very educational. And the 3D buildings really help you visualize what it might have been like.