Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in Second Life I: The Great Pyramid at Giza

When Moses was alive, these pyramids were a thousand years old. Here began the history of architecture. Here people learned to measure time by a calendar, to plot the stars by astronomy and chart the earth by geometry. And here they developed that most awesome of all ideas - the idea of eternity.

Walter Cronkite      

Lately, I’ve been blogging about a variety of topics in Second Life (SL).  Fashion, steampunk, sex, pirates, and friendship to name but a few.  (I’m nothing if not eclectic.)  However, I feel I’ve gotten away from my roots.  Originally, I’d wanted to travel across the grid to see new places and meet new people.  I think I’m doing pretty well with the latter but the former maybe not so much. 
So, I’ve decided to strike out and visit more places further afield inworld.  One group of places that I’ve always wanted to visit in Real Life (RL) and have been frustrated mostly by time and to a certain extent by distance is the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.   Given that only one of them still stands and that unfortunately seems to be surrounded by a swirl of political turmoil which looks like it won’t be ending any time soon, SL seems to be a pretty good bet to go looking for them.  (Significant Other also likes the idea of me not clocking up any more frequent flyer miles in RL.)
The ancient world has always had a certain fascination for me.  Maybe because I grew up in a country where we seem to have more people who are over one hundred years old than we have buildings and monuments has something to do with it. 
Working from Wikipedia’s list of the Seven Wonders, I was able to locate all seven within SL.  This was a good sign and I have my marching orders.  I’m going to visit all of them for my own sake and to bring the places and stories back to my readers. 
I decide to start with the Great Pyramid of Giza.  It’s the only survivor of the original seven, the oldest of them, and, probably, the most physically impressive of the lot. 
I arrive at the Great Pyramid of Giza in the Nile Valley.  I realize almost immediately that something’s amiss.  I’ve only seen the Great Pyramid in RL in photos (including one of an older relative sitting on a camel in front of it during WWII) or videos but I can tell that I may have to rethink my original objective of revisiting the world’s lost history in SL. 
Maybe it’s the glitzy pyramid standing in front of me that looks like it dropped in from Las Vegas or the sign saying “Nude Beach” but I don’t think I’m in Egypt, ancient or otherwise.  Given the relative ease of construction in SL (yes, I’m leaving myself open to criticism from scripters with that one) I’m a little disappointed by its size.  I know the number of prims is always a constraint but something better could have been done here.
Walking towards this dwarf pyramid, I see that further architectural license has been taken with the original design to allow for a wide open entrance that leads to a dance floor complete with bar and poles for dancing.  I’d obviously gotten the wrong tourist brochure.  (I need to find a really good travel agent in SL.) 
There is no one else around.  Not a mummy in sight!  There is a haunting, empty feeling about the place.  I walk across the dance floor and go out the rear entrance.  (Yes, even more architectural license!)  Sand dunes and a few palm trees are all that greet me.  Looking back on the pyramid, the shape is a bit more traditional but I’m still underwhelmed. 
This first visit to one of the Ancient Wonders of the world has me a little worried about my future expeditions.  I’ve visited other ancient sites, Alexandria and Rome where there is much more attention to period detail and the scale is bigger.  I hope that subsequent sites have more to them. 
I don’t want to be harsh.  Some poor guy builds a cool looking dance floor and bar based on the pyramids next door to a nude beach and I roll through looking for Tutankhamun and Howard Carter.  Looks like it could be a good place to hang out if a crowd happened to be there.  I don’t see any notices for parties or other functions while at the pyramid.  Or, maybe I’ve stumbled across another abandoned sim. 
My travels across SL have brought me to many different places.  Admittedly, many of these journeys were random.  Now, I’m setting out on a journey with a purpose.  (Scary isn’t it?)  I’ll be searching for the famous sites from antiquity. 
My reasons for this journey are twofold.  First, how much of the ancient world can I find inworld?  Second, how well has the ancient world been reconstructed?  My travels to date have brought me in contact with many residents who are either building worlds in SL or are living their virtual lives there. 
The Great Pyramid is the first stop on this journey and I have six more to go. Anyone who would like to join me for part or all of it, please reach out to me and we’ll work out the calendars.  I’d be glad for the company!  
I’ve included links to several pictures of the Great Pyramid that I took while there.  But check the site out for yourself.  Pictures, especially when I’m the photographer, ar never as good as being there. 
As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 2 Modern Times

Photo No. 3 For the Tourists

Photo No. 7 Rear View

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