Using Virtual Reality to Explore the Valley of the Kings

Student looking through VR headset while academic narrates the virtual tourTeaching students about ancient Egyptian royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings represent a unique challenge. The tombs are extraordinarily complex structures and a series of images does not really give the students a full idea of how they looked, how they were constructed and their decorative programme.

After contacting the Humanities eLearning team, I borrowed around 25 Google cardboard sets, and two Learning Technologists also accompanied us in the Mansfield Cooper Archaeology lab – to help out in the case of running into technical issues. 

The students were first set the task of constructing the VR headsets themselves as Google Cardboard works by inserting your own device within folded pieces of cardboard behind a plastic lenses area, and they then logged into the site

Next, the students followed along as I took them on a guided tour of the tomb of Ramesses VI in the Valley of the Kings while explaining what they were seeing, where to focus and what to pay attention to, and in general what had happened historically in various different sections of the experience.

Students using VR headsets in classOverall, despite minor complaints regarding the discomfort in the devices, students were very positive about the experience noting in particular the ‘realism’ of the experience and their ability to immerse themselves. They also highlighted the usefulness of having a clear (scripted) guided tour.

The short video clip below shows the class in action:



I would not recommend that tutors simply let students ‘roam free’. This may be useful for a few minutes at the end of a virtual tour, but fundamentally, they need a clear script.

Evaluation / Student Feedback

Some replies to the question “What do you think worked most well?” which was asked in an anonymous survey among the students immediately after the virtual tour ended:

“The experience was very realistic and I felt like I was inside the tomb”

“it was a fun experience and nice to have everything explained”

“Understanding the physical layout of the tomb and the decoration”

“The fact to really visualize ideas, explications and concepts”

“Really helped understanding the visual landscape of the tomb and how it was made as well as the specific elements
and stories around them”

“The combination of the visuals and Nicky’s commentary”

“Being able to see everything as it was being described was incredibly helpful in understanding the placement of
everything, and helped with getting a full idea of what tombs looked like”

  • Immersion
  • Realism
  • Greater understanding of physical layouts
Top Tips
  • Make sure you have a script with stops so that the students all follow along.
  • Contact the eLearning Team if you would also like to provide a similar experience to this one, as there are a number of Learning Technologists with experience in VR and gaming who’d be happy to help you out.


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School: Arts, Languages and Cultures

Discipline: Classics

Academic: Nicky Nielsen

Course: CAHE10651

Cohort Size: 52

Themes: Enhancing learning with technology, teaching ideas.

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Visit our Extended Reality and Immersive Technologies Hub

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