October 18, 2017

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A Virtual Tour of the Giza Plateau | Touch and Go

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Once again, Touch Press delivers an absorbing, in-depth look at a topic that will dazzle readers and viewers. This app takes viewers on a virtual tour deep inside the tombs and pyramids of Egypt’s Giza Plateau. 


On opening Pyramids 3D: Wonders of the Old Kingdom (Touch Press LLP; $13.99; Gr 6 Up), viewers soar over the Giza Plateau under the bright desert sun while the sounds of birds and the wind are heard in the background. In all, there are nine “Places” to visit at this ancient necropolis, from King Khafre’s Tomb to The Great Pyramid. Tapping on the entrance to a monument will bring viewers inside. Once there, they can take a virtual tour of the pyramid or tomb, methodically following arrows and using the floor plan as a guide, or swiping the floors and walls to move about independently within the labyrinths. The “Expert Intros” for each location, the only audio provided in this app, are informative, yet all too brief.

A menu at the top of each screen provides an alphabetized index of sites to explore and a “Quick tips” menu explains how to navigate within the monuments. Illuminated areas signal statues, wall carvings, and drawings that offer additional information. A tap on a picture label provides a description of the work. Titles, terms, and locales are defined and illustrated with maps. Throughout the app, scenes offer a “Then and Now” feature allowing users to toggle between the clean lines, vibrant colors, and the smooth surfaces that artists imagine these walls and items had millennia ago, and the fading colors and damage wrought by time, and in some cases, vandalism.

‘Statue of a Woman Making Bread’ from ‘Pyramids 3D’ (Touch Press) Photo by Sandro Vannini

An “Objects” option allows viewers to examine a collection of 40 artifacts, each of which can be enlarged and rotated 360 degrees. The clarity of detail is noteworthy. Particularly stunning is the “Golden Mask of Tutankhamun,” which shines as users tip their iPads to fully appreciate the pairing of ancient artistry and modern technology. Other artifacts include statues and statuettes, a gold-handled knife, and a piece of jewelry. For each item, details (size, material, etc.) and notes are provided.

The accompanying text offers an introduction and 10 chapters on topics ranging from “A Brief History of Ancient Egypt” and “The Pyramid Builders” to “The Mystery of the Queen’s Burial” and the 1954 “Discovery of the Solar Boats.” Fascinating details along with a timeline and photos of the site and artifacts are included. A postscript by the author—the noted archeologist Zahi Hawass—discusses recent political developments in Egypt and the plans for the Giza Plateau, its protection, and continued excavation.

Both the spectacular photography by Sandro Vannini and superb 3-D imaging will impress viewers, who will undoubtedly wish the app contained a larger collection of photos and locations to explore. A splendid production.—Deirdre Reddington, Uniondale High School, Uniondale, NY

Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.