Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Great Enclosure

Great Zimbabwe was a medieval city located in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe. Construction of the city is believed to have begun in the 9th century. The stone remains of the city, also known as the Great Enclosure, still stand and are recognized as a World Heritage Site. 

You can now pay a virtual visit to the Great Enclosure thanks to an amazing photogrammetry 3D model of the city created by The Economist. In Unearthing the Truth The Economist takes you on a guided tour of this amazing 250 meter long stone enclosure. This tour takes a detailed look at the decorated outer wall, the city's drainage system and the city's 5.5 meter tall conical tower. 

The Economist's amazing 3D tour of the Great Enclosure was made possible thanks to a 3D model of the city created by the University of Cape Town. The Economist was able to use Three.js and some clever compression tricks to turn this model into an amazing scrollytelling 3D tour that works seamlessly even in the browser of a mobile phone. You can learn more about how Unearthing the Truth was created in the Economist Data Team's blog post, How we created a 3D graphic of Great Zimbabwe.

The use of interactive 3D models is a growing trend in data journalism. Here are links to some other great examples of news organizations using 3D models to illustrate and explain major news events:

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