A Virtual Reality Project: Introducing a Queen to Nimrud’s Northwest Palace

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I am pleased to announce the commencement of a Virtual Reality that will add a queen character to the long-established virtual model of Nimrud’s Northwest Palace1.


The Virtual Northwest Palace was established in the late 1990s, and has been expanded and developed since. It has been featured in classrooms, museums, and galleries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. For a peak, check out this fly-through video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VCldg1TdHc

Missing from the virtual palace, in its present state, however, are any female characters. It is time to update our perceptions of history! Scholarship on Neo-Assyrian queens debunks old-fashioned visions of harems and establishes that royal women engaged in economic, diplomatic, and ritual activities. Within the palace, queens had their own scribes, managed their own households, and were vital counterparts to the king’s identity and authority.

I have teamed up with the educational company Learning Sites, Inc, which currently owns and develops the virtual palace, to add a queen to the palace. With the support of a St. John’s University Seed Grant (2016-2017), we developed a 3D model of a queen.

LSInc_queen_34-rear_4NEH_122716                     LSInc_queen_34-rear_4NEH_122716


Her appearance is based on information from art, texts, and the human remains and elements of dress preserved in the positions it would have been worn in the tombs of queens excavated from beneath the Northwest Palace. The 3D queen is shown holding a stamp seal (portrayed, based on archaeological evidence, connected to her garment by a chain attached to a fibula) to reinforce the active roles that women played in the Neo-Assyrian court.

With additional funding, we plan to integrate the queen character into the virtual world. I look forward to making updates on our progress!

For project updates, follow me on Twitter: @amygansell; and check out: amygansell.com

Dr. Amy Gansell
Department of Art and Design
St. John’s University
Queens, New York


  1. Project also introduced at the “Second Workshop on Gender, Methodology and the Ancient Near East” in Barcelona

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