Image: Connections screenshot
One area of the "Eternal Egypt" Web site shows how artifacts such as the gold mask of Tutankhamun are connected to other sites and objects. Click on the screenshot to visit the Web site, or click on the globe logo at right to learn more about Egypt from MSN Encarta.
updated 2/24/2004 5:14:03 PM ET 2004-02-24T22:14:03

The Sphinx still has its nose and King Tutankhamun’s tomb is still crowded with gilded furniture.

At least, that is how Egypt can be seen in the virtual world of Eternal Egypt, an interactive Web site launched Tuesday by Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and IBM.

“Eternal Egypt marries technology and culture,” said Minister of Communications Ahmed Nazif. “We have long realized the importance of information technology in preserving such a great heritage. Egypt owes it to the world to make sure it is preserved.”

Three years of work
The project is the culmination of three years of work and a grant of $2.5 million from IBM. It also includes a hand-held, digital guide to the Egyptian Museum, and Internet tours of the pyramids and Luxor Temple that are accessible via cell phones or personal digital assistants.

The centerpiece of the Eternal Egypt project is the Web site. Dubbed “a museum without walls,” it is packed with information in English, Arabic and French covering more than 5,000 years and four eras: the Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic.

Egypt hopes the site will lure more tourists — a major source of revenue.

“I always visit places because I see a photo or read a book and then am tempted to go to the place,” said Fathi Saleh, an organizer of Eternal Egypt and director of the Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage. “This venture will be one of the most important Web sites for people’s cultural heritage in the world.”

3-D and 360-degree
While casual visitors to the site could be overwhelmed by the hundreds of links, someone with even a mild Egyptology bug could spend hours perusing the seemingly endless gathering of information.

Image: Press conference
Hasan Jamali  /  AP
Egyptian Communication Minister Ahmed Nadeef addresses journalists by the Giza pyramids on Tuesday at the launch of the "Eternal Egypt" Web site.
Want to know what King Tut’s tomb looked like when it was uncovered by Howard Carter in 1922? A 360-degree virtual reconstruction shows you every colorful detail.

Wondering how ancient Egyptians marked the annual flooding of the Nile? Watch an animated explanation of the Nileometer.

With maps, timelines and 3-D images of artifacts and monuments, the site can be searched by topic, place, time period — or by randomly selecting areas of interest.

“You can let the serendipity of connections be your guide,” IBM creative director John Tolva said as he navigated the site before an audience of politicians, business people and media.

The data was compiled by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage.

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