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You can tour ancient Rome — virtually

An exhibition amid the Roman Forum allows visitors to wear 3-D glasses and watch some 50 multimedia projects showing Rome's greatest monuments as they used to be.
A visitor wears 3-D glasses as she listens to a guide explaining a 3-D installation by U.S. artist Franz Fischnaller "From the Renaissance to the Gigabits Networking Age" at the virtual archeology exhibition "Immaginare Roma Antica" (Imagining Ancient Rome), at the ancient Mercati di Traiano market, in Rome.Beatrice Larco / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Forget the dusty guidebooks and the crumbling ruins. An exhibition amid the Roman Forum invites visitors to don 3-D glasses and watch the alluring dance of a slave who has been dead for two millennia, or stroll through the streets of ancient Rome with the click of a mouse.

"Imagine Ancient Rome" presents some 50 multimedia projects showing Rome's greatest monuments as they used to be.

"These monuments were meant to be visited, but now they are just a bunch of random ruins," said Bernard Frischer, a University of Virginia professor who worked on two of the projects. "What you want to do is put it all back together."

The show runs through Nov. 20 and is set up among the ancient "tabernae," the shops and offices that lined the section of the Forum built by the emperor Trajan. Space is tight; the cramped rooms of what was once the city's center for public life can only accommodate a few visitors at a time.

Although centered around Roman history, the show goes beyond the confines of the ancient empire. One exhibit is a virtual city whose inhabitants can interact with visitors, and another has a robot that can independently explore and send back images of caves and other delicate sites closed to the public.