Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jerusalem vs. Pompeii (in Google Earth)

There are not many computer programs that I am wildly ecstatic about, but Google Earth qualifies even if no others do.  If you haven’t yet downloaded it, I recommend it.

I’ve been doing some reading recently on Pompeii.  I think my fascination with the city may in part be owing to my “discovery” of the site years after I thought I had been to the most important ruins of the Middle East and Mediterranean world.  When I visited, I felt that I had been cheated for years. 

Why had no one sat me down and told me in a most serious tone that I must discard all other travel plans and get myself to Pompeii?  Apparently I do not have friends who love me enough.

Sadly I learned very little from my delay in visiting Pompeii in Real Life, for I have done no better in visiting Pompeii in Google Earth.  I had no idea what a treat was awaiting me.  At least for those used to staring at the fuzzy, low-resolution imagery of Israel, Pompeii is a beautiful contrast.  (To find Pompeii quickly, paste these coordinates in the “Fly To” box: 40.750262°14.486046°).

Here is a comparison, with screenshots taken in Google Earth from the same elevation above the sites.

Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem

pompeii Forum and Temple of Augustus, in Pompeii

I don’t know what it’s going to take before we see high-quality satellite imagery in the Middle East.

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  • Maybe never. I remember reading a few years ago that Israel was worried that terrorists may be using Google Earth to target homemade missile attacks or plan in-country missions. Not an entirely unreasonable concern.

    Israel may not want hi res maps that easily available.

    By Blogger Al Sandalow, at Thu Oct 22, 08:37:00 AM  

  • I love you, Todd.

    And I agree with Al. Freely available, high-res imagery of Israel is a bad idea, and will probably never happen. Have you noticed, though, that the Google Earth people apparently took a lot of time to clean up the colors in their Israel/Jordan/Egypt region. It now looks really nice - like one seamless photo. Compare southern Egypt. Yuck.

    By Blogger dfrese, at Thu Oct 22, 03:39:00 PM  

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