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Virtual or Reality: combined IT and Classics trip to ‘The Horizons of Khurfu’

Posted by: Various - 27 March 2024 - Activities & Sports - Read time: 5 minutes

On 13th March, Classics and IT students took a joint trip to a VR experience called The Horizons of Khufu in Stratford, London. The experience allowed the students taking IT to look at VR technology and the Classics students to immerse themselves in Ancient Egypt. As we led our scholars, none of us quite knew what virtual secrets lay beyond the unassuming façade of the building.

IT Review
By Year 13 students Sabrina, Laraib, Francois and Josh

The technology which underpinned the experience allowed multiple groups to wander around the shared space carefully guided by the technology. We could interact with the avatars within our groups and the technology could identify the height of each of us and body movements such as walking and arm positions. This allowed us to understand the more advanced uses of the technology, beyond gaming, to the real applications in tourism and training.

The 45-minute trip was like stepping into a time machine. With VR headsets on, we met our virtual guide, cleverly named Mona, the anagram of ‘Amon,’ an important deity in the Egyptian pantheon. Mona showed us around, and we got to ‘meet’ some of the Egyptian gods. It was a fun change from our usual Greek gods! During our trip, we hopped aboard the famous solar boat of Khufu. Even though it was all virtual, it felt like we were really sailing down the Nile.

We roamed through Giza, now part of the greater Cairo metropolitan area, home to the iconic pyramids and the Sphinx. The places themselves were stunningly accurate: everything from the massive pyramids to the sacred rituals was just as it would have been thousands of years ago. We even got a behind-the scenes peek at how they embalmed Pharaohs.

One student said, “As a first experience of VR, I found it fascinating to experience another part of the world in a single room. The graphics were decent and had a semi-realistic feel to it, adding to the immersion of ancient Egypt. Overall it was a good experience and was very interesting to dive into the technology behind it. The experience was fun and especially nice to have a school trip after the Covid years of missing out on such experiences. It was amazing to see the technology in a new environment and see how far it has come in such a short period of time.”

 Another IT student added: “Having used VR at home, it was a completely different experience due to being able to walk around and view it in a larger scale. I found this extremely immersive, often bumping into my classmates! I can definitely see how this type of technology could be developed in the future to benefit the tourist market, being able to travel without the huge expenses. Not only for tourism but for education like history or geography, the possibilities are endless! The trip was a very different experience; we had a backpack as well as headset to transport the computing device around the space. I believe that the graphics and the technology will improve and this could be of benefit for future generations. This was a very fun experience especially when I kept knocking into my classmates and it definitely increased my knowledge in IT. Overall, we had a fantastic day out with our classmates and would like to thank Christine [Christine Gavin, Director of Operations] for this really fun opportunity.”

Classics Review
By William, Aysia, Layan, Ridley, and Naz

The ancient Egyptian VR experience was definitely one to remember. It was very realistic and interactive, so it was easy to learn. I liked the animation and design of the experience and how at some points you had to climb and crawl under things. It was both educational and entertaining for me and my classmates. My favourite parts of the experience were the talking cat and the display of the ancient Egyptian burial process. The trip was immersive, leaving me with a profound sense of awe and a wealth of newfound knowledge both in Ancient Egyptian History and the latest VR technology. It offered valuable insights into the contrasting realms of Egyptian gods and Greek deities, broadening my understanding of ancient civilisation in ways I never anticipated.

As we look back on this trip, it is clear that the combination of learning and fun has left a lasting impression on us all. The ancient Egyptian world, with its gods, pharaohs, and rituals, came alive in a way that textbooks alone could never convey. This trip to The Horizon of Khufu has not only enriched our understanding of religious practices and material culture, but also reminded us of the power of technology to transform education into a more engaging and immersive experience.