Category: meral-crifasi - Part 3

Spotting Synagogues Amongst the Minarets: A Tour of Jewish Istanbul

I am planning a week-long trip to Istanbul with my husband and two young boys for Christmas holidays and the New Year. The main focus of the holiday will be visiting my family who live in Istanbul and catching up with friends. Each time we are back home my French husband gets restless in a family environment with too much Turkish language around him that he understands very little of, and wants to be the sightseeing tourist wondering the streets.

He would rather be watching a belly dancing show in Galata Tower or relaxing in a TurkishBath – typical tourist things to do. Good thing that Istanbul is such a vibrant city full of cultural and historical things to do so we are not stuck for ideas. Every time I feel like a tour guide who needs to have plans for the next daily tour – and each time I have to come up with better and more creative plans. If I take them to the same place more then once it’s a major mistake!

Does it happen to you too: you live in a city, so never treat it like a tourist and fall into the trap of just doing your day-to-day things? I don’t live in Istanbul now but did so for 19-20 years and when I go back I never view it in the same way as other city break destinations.

For the past couple of years, having the responsibility of showing my sons my Turkish heritage, I feel more concerned about what they learn and see. I also make sure they feel proud of their fifty percent Turkish blood. So having seen many historical sights so far and visited endless museums and mosques I decided to show them the Jewish Heritage in Istanbul.

The History of Jewish Heritage in Turkey

Over 500 years later the act is still a model of tolerance

Jewish settlements in Turkey go back to the Roman era in the Manisa area with the heavily-destroyed synogogue Sardis. During the Ottaman Empire in 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain by the Catholic King Ferdinand, and came to Turkey thanks to Sultan Bayezit II, who gave them refuge in the country.

Over 500 years later the act is still a model of tolerance, and one that has led to a vibrant multi-faith community. Modern Turkey is now home to approximately 25,000 jews.

Your Jewish Heritage in Istanbul Tour Starts Now

Jewish Museum of Turkey. Image Credit - Alan Cordova.I will start the tour from Galata Tower which is a Geneoese landmark that can not be missed as it is visible from many parts of Istanbul. It’s a great vantage point for breathtaking panoramic views of the Bosphorus and Istanbul, including the Golden Horn and Galata Bridge.

I think every kid would find it fascinating to hear the stories of Hazerfan Ahmet Celebi, who made wings and flew from the Galata tower over to the Bosphorus. The area around Galata used to be a thriving Jewish community around 1500.

Next stop is Neve Shalom Synagoge. Neve Shalom is the largest and most beautiful Sephardic synagogue in the Galata area. You need to make an appointment for a visit by calling them beforehand. Zulfaris Synagogue which is now The Jewish Museum of Turkey is in the area too, and open every day but Saturday from 10am till 4pm. It has impressive decoration inside with great collections of Jewish heritage. As we leave the Galata region do not forget to take a look at Kamondos Staircase, named after a wealthy Jewish family.

Now we head towards Balat which is in the Fatih area, on the western side of the Halic (Golden Horn). This area used to be an important part of the Jewish community, with many synagogues, schools and a hospital. Nowadays only two synagogues remain, as well as Or Ahayim Hospital. Ahrida amd Yanbol synagogues are the remaining sites and both of them need to be contacted before making a visit. Ahrida is one of the oldest synagogues in Istanbul, and built in the Ottaman Baroque style. Watch out for Star of David symbols around the area as you walk through the streets of Fatih: some can still be spotted on the facades of the buildings.

A Fatih neighbourhood, Istanbul. The entrance of a synagogue can be seen on the right. Image Credit - Jerzy Kociatkiewicz.As you wander round the narrow streets of Balat, take time to imagine the centuries of different cultures, religions and people who lived there together as neighbours and friends. Not only Jews but Armenians and Greeks lived in these colourful wooden houses, and walked on these cobblestone pavements. There are still some grocery stores and small businesses owned by Jews and Greeks. Talk to an older person on the street – I am sure they would be more then happy to share their stories with you.

After Fatih, we would like to reach to Ortakoy. The traffic can be awful in this area, so try to get there around 4pm, before the rush hour starts. This is where you can see the rebuilt Etz Ahayim Synagogue which was burnt in 1941.

There is nothing better than the shores of Ortakoy at sunset with a cup of warm tea, in the cold days of December. Looking out over the waves of the Bosphorus, under the lights of Bosphorus Bridge and the Ortakoy mosque, the view is stunning. I am sure after all this walking you would appreaciate the view and some warm tea.

I guess in one day, one can not cover all Jewish Heritage in Istanbul. At the end of my little tour there are still more synagogues left to see, and also the cemeteries at Sisli, Kuzguncuk, Princess Islands, Haydarpasa and Haskoy. But what a great way of seeing different regions of Istanbul from a different view. If you have done this tour and would like to recommend any places please drop me a note: after all I am not a tour guide or a tourist in my own country. I’d love to hear about your travels to Istanbul!

Next: Find out about the Jewish heritage of Egypt, in a unique Heritage Key video.

Libya opens Leptis Magna to the world

Herb Schmitz is a well travelled professional photographer with an impressive array of cameras, including his trusty Nikon D-3. Click the image to skip down to the video.London-based photographer Herb Schmitz spends most of his time away travelling and photographing political figures, landscapes and fashion. It’s more of a hobby now, but Herb has had a long and successful career in photography. Little more then a year ago, while working for a shipping company, Herb had a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to visit Libya’s Roman city Leptis Magna. I met Herb Schmitz in his studio to create this video interview, shot by film-maker Samantha Newton, in which he describes his experience photographing this amazing site, and his cameras of choice.

Archaeologists from the University of Hamburg were excavating along the Libyan coast just outside the ruins of Leptis Magna in 2000 when they discovered one of North Africa’s best preserved Roman cities, complete with ancient Roman ruins, roman baths, and gladiator ring. The finds were made public in 2005.

He would only be allowed to travel to Tripoli if he left his professional camera equipment and, most importantly, his American wife Pat Doyle, behind

As the country celebrates 40 years of Gaddafi rule, and the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, is welcomed back in his country as a hero, Libya is hot news these days. The country has only recently opened its doors to foreign tourists, but Herb had a vague idea what was waiting for him and his wife when they took the opportunity to visit one of the Roman Empire’s most beautiful cities. Herb Schmitz, a German national, has travelled to much of the Middle East, so he was used to the culture and restrictions of the Arab World as a western photographer.

But as he faced the local authorities at customs he found out that he would only be allowed to travel to Tripoli if he left his professional camera equipment and, most importantly, his American wife Pat Doyle, behind as she had no visa to enter Libya.

Herb took his compact Canon G-10 Powershot with him, and left for a quick tour of the city’s ruins.

Canon PowerShot G10: 15MP & 28mm Wide – The Must-Have Snapper

When Herb showed me the camera I was quite impressed by its vintage look, and how it feels like traditional old cameras. It has endless exposure settings and can take high-quality video, and the large LCDdisplay is wonderful. The third-generation PowerShot G10 is a stunning little camera, and loaded with superb specs, like 14.7 megapixels and a 28mm wide-angle lens. It has a endless amounts of shooting and recording modes. It will definitely be on my Christmas list this year!

Nikon D-3 : The Professional Choice

Herb has taken some beautiful photos of the Roman baths, The Arch of Septimius Severus and Medusa’s head all with the compact little wonder – Canon G-10. If he were to return, however, he would take his impressive Nikon D-3 and his wide-angle lens. It’s amazing to watch him click through the camera so naturally; he creates wonders and you can’t even keep up with him. Herb is an amazing photographer with any of his equipment, but I must say he adores his Nikon D-3. The camera and all the lenses look like diamonds nestled in the steel carrier bag he has designed.

As we go through different equipment Herb picks up a toy-like camera with a sparkle in his eyes. He shows it to us in detail: the pen-shaped device, a Minox B, sub-miniature Camera from 1968, looks like something from a James Bond film. We agree that it’s a must-have gadget for any aspiring detective.

Libya Travel Advice

One can spend hours in Herb’s studio going through everything, from old Leica cameras to all sorts of new digital models: once you get into years of work in the slides it’s hard to get out. Before we finish our interview we talk a bit more about Leptis Magna and travelling to Libya in general. Based on years of experience going to many different cultures, Herb advises that you keep your cool as you face the authorities. He points out that once you actually pass through the red tape and mix with locals its actually a wonderfully warm experience.

In Libya’s case he managed to get some wonderful shots of some local families visiting – and they were extremely friendly towards him. As you plan your travel please check you’ve got all the necessary documents. Once there keep calm, pack light, bring along a compact camera and enjoy the wonders of the ancient world with fewer tourists.

HD Video: Herb Schmitz on shooting the Roman ruins at Leptis Magna, Libya

(Transcription of this video.)

For more advice on photographing ancient sites, check out Mary Harrsch’s practical guide. Heritage Key has a growing collection of video interviews on a wide range of heritage issues, such as the Great Cities in History, featuring Lord Norwich, and the Search for the Tomb of Cleopatra, featuring Dr Kathleen Martinez.

Virtual King Tut Flickr Photo Contest

Both photos taken by Prad Prathivi at Heritage Key King Tut Virtual

We want to see your best high resolution photos taken in King Tut Virtual, and will reward the most sublime shots with non-virtual cash. King Tut Virtual is part of the Heritage Key Grid – running on OpenSim with some extra magic added to it – and shows ancient Egypt, the Valley of the Kings and the treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb. It is easy to register and have a look at what we have created, an area well worth of ‘snapshotting’.

Taking good, quality, high-resolution photographs anywhere in the metaverse takes quite a bit of time, effort and creative genius, so we are offering 100$ for the most fabulous high resolution shots taken in King Tut Virtual. Here are the rules:

* Your image needs to be at minimum 2000 by 3000 pixels. (Or 3000x2000px.) This means good enough for print.
* It needs to be submitted to the Heritage Key Virtual Flickr Group, and tagged ‘HKVX’.
* You must label each picture with your avatar name.
* Your photographs need to be submitted before Dec 4 2009.
* You can submit as many photographs as you want.

100$ each to three winners at the end. Yes Real Life dollars

* By participating in this contest the participants agree to put the winning photographs (at least 2000x3000px) up on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution license*, as well as on the Heritage Key & Rezzable Blog (under the same license).

You are allowed as many as entries you like, but please keep your clothes on. We’ll be featuring great shots as they come in on the Rezzable blog which is syndicated on several feeds.

Some tips:

* We like to see avatars exploring !
* What in King Tut Virtual would you show to your friends?
* What’s real in a virtual world?

Go to now to register your avatar and get started snapshotting!Any questions or assistance needed? Contact LokumShilova/Meral Crifasi or leave a comment here.

**For people in doubt: The Creative Commons Attribution license means that you keep the copyright to your images, but allow everybody to use the photograph for non-commercial as well as commercial use, as long as they supply attribution – credit you as the photographer.
GO Virtual and log in to Heritage Key at

See you at Heritage Key – Virtual King Tut !

Hen Parties, Dancing and Steamy Encounters in Turkey’s Ancient Hammams

We are approaching winter; the weather is going downhill and the days are getting shorter. After a long, sun-deprived day in the office there’s nothing better than the idea of cosying up with hot chocolate, thick socks, and woolly jumpers, or – best of all – a long hot bath. This winter-time ritual reminds me of the Turkish bath, or hammam. Throughout the world, spas and baths have become part of our busy lives, as a means of peaceful retreat and to recharge our batteries. They’re a place of sanctuary that we search for to find peace and quiet. But in ancient history, people used baths in a different way than the way we use them now.

Turkish baths were adapted from those of the Romans and Byzantines. The first baths were set up in Anatolia, and were changed over time by the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks. Now the hammams are used mainly as a tourist attraction, but back in ancient Turkey they were part of daily life, celebrations and gatherings.

When you compare the Roman baths to the Ottoman style baths they share the same architectural style. All all have three separate rooms; first the hot room (sicaklik or caldarium), secondly the warm room (iliklik or the tepidarium) where you wash yourself with soap, and finally is the cold room (sogukluk) for resting. Islamic influence led to the segregation of men and women in the traditional Roman and Byzantine baths, although there is evidence of communal bathing in some baths.

For the Ancient Romans the bath was part of their daily life to cleanse themselves. They bathed in pools like the one at Bath, in the photo above. Nowadays we keep our baths rather as a private thing for ourselves, but for the ancients it was a very public activity. I see the Roman baths more like our modern gyms, as the exercise was part of the ritual.

Turkish Baths, on the other hand, were for more than just cleansing the body; they were used as celebrations to mark important times in ones lifeline, from a 40-day-old babys first ritual bath to circumcision and major bridal celebrations and Henna parties. The Turks had very scarce water and many considered water sacred, so I think that by forming these Turkish baths they were celebrating, in a way, water and life.

Ancient Hen Parties and Dodgy Stag Dos

Baths are quite private now, but back then they were having hen parties in the Turkish Baths with full music and near-naked dancing. Also social status was not much of big deal, unlike in our luxury spa experiences; Turkish baths were open to everyone from children to adults in all walks of life. It was where women became unusually quite comfortable in their nakedness around other women. Men in general would cover up with a peshtamal; a linen towel strategically wrapped around their hip.

I love the stories behind each tradition, and when we look closely at why women found freedom and joy by gathering in hammams is amazing. At the time of the Ottoman empire women did not have much freedom to be out on their own. Gatherings for regular cleansing rituals turned quickly into the chance to get together in a relaxed environment. Women enjoyed their freedom and spending time with their friends – almost everything got celebrated in a hammam.

‘Tellaks’, or ‘masseurs’, who worked in the baths in the Ottoman empire had a special relation with their clients

For men it was a different matter. ‘Tellaks’, or ‘masseurs’, who worked in the baths in the Ottoman empire had a special relation with their clients and it is said that many of these young men were actually sex workers. The erotic and the sensual part of the Turkish Bath was brought to us in a very sensational movie called Hamam. The movie is set in old Istanbul, where east meets west, and a young Italian guy meets a handsome Turkish man.Their scene in the movie has become a cult scene. Similarly, in most paintings from the Ottaman Empire the hammam scenes were quite popular!

Of course, these days, bathing is a different proposition altogether. Most of the time, we bathe for reasons of hygiene, beauty and relaxation, to detox our bodies, and to get a moment of calm and privacy in our busy lives. But are we missing out on the joys of community bathing? The girly spa days that have seen a resurgence recently certainly suggest that for women hammams can play a vital role in female friendship and celebration.

If you are planning a trip to Istanbul soon, make sure you check the following Traditional Turkish baths in the heart of the city. The top three Hamams in Istanbul are Cemberlitas hamami, Cagaloglu hamamiand Galatasaray Hamami.

Making Machinimas: The Essential Checklist

What’s Machinima?

Machinima is film making within a real-time, 3D virtual environment, mostly using 3D video-game technologies. Its creating a short film by using a game engine.It all started in the late 90s with Quake when gamers were filming and editing to create short films. We have widely used it in Rezzable and our OpenSim-based Private Grid to create short films of Fashion Shows, exhibitions or simply wandering around on our beautifully created sims . If you would like to know more about how it’s used in other gaming platforms or advertising you can do a bit more reading here. (What is a machinima–Officer Dan explains here courtesy

above: recent short machinima where checklist below was helpful

How Do I Make a Machinima :

You have watched some of ours and now you are wondering how do I do this. Before anything technical we must warn you that all you need is patience to get the right mixture of minutes of footage. On the brightside, you don’t need to spend too much money to give it a try as most tools are open source. First let’s see our what’s needed checklist

  • A Virtual World Environment
  • Video Capture Program
  • Video Editing program
  • and music/ audio recording and editing program

Once you have these in place it would be useful to read through our checklist from Jon Himoff who has done many machinimas in the past and so his first hand experience will be of great use.

Making Machinimas Checklist

Planning Machinimas

Game plan and shot list: Make as detailed a shooting plan as possible. Break-out each shot into a list showing actors, expressions, dialogue, fx and sets that are needed. Getting the faces to do something other than look blandly into space is not too easy, so you will need to collect lots and lots of gestures, animations, emotes as you can. And keep your vid short! 10 secs of boring vid is seemingly endless. Make it snappy to keep ’em happy (unless you a mood expert like Lainy Voom)

Materials Collection: make sure you have a pose stand! Then load it up with lots of relevant animations. Make sure the stand will go invisible. Get avatar emoter controls. Then of course you will need wardrobe and any cars/guns/accessories for the actions.

Shooting, editing Time and Effort guidelines: It takes about 1 hour to shoot a minute’s worth of editable shots. It then takes another hour to edit that the clips down to something worth watching. So a 3 minute vid should take about 6 hours to hammer out–provided you have enough diet coke/mountain dew/lattes and some right size diapers. This is of course just part of the production effort and you will need to organize your scripts, actors, sets and effects which will take more effort.

Make a scratch track: Get something like Audacity and make a good scratch track of the music, voices that you want to have in your film. You can do of course do this after you shoot, but we find it a lot more efficient to have this track down first. Do it quick and then finalize it after you do the edit. It really helps when you want to have the music add to the impact of the vid.

Get Help: Find some people to support the action. Sometimes you can just scream video and tons of people will come to be extras. But getting them to do what you need on cue is like herding cats into a swimming pool. It is super hard to coordinate stuff in world when you are filming. So good to have a voice call going on skype. People get really confused really easily, so good if you can share the shooting plan with them so they can add to it.

Shooting Machinimas

Screen capture: we use Fraps. Typically set to capture half-screen which is fine for web showings. We did something recently with full screen and it looks very goodbut files are huge (200meg for 15-20 secs) and massive files are slower/tweaky in Adobe Premier to edit.

SL Viewer Settings: crank up the details on our preferences and turn-on anti-aliasing (on hardware options) to as high as it will go.

Windlight: Get familiar with WL settings. Moving the sun is very handyeast angle setting. Using windlight can make it much cooler and you can style entire shoot to make it fresh.

Lighting: You can only see the effects of 6 lights at a time using the SL viewer. Find the best mix of face lights and scenes lights. Also use the light radius control to see how far a light is shining. Ctrl+Alt+T makes transparent things visible. Watch out if you are shooting underwater level ’cause even 100% alpha prims are ghosted underwater.

Alt+Cam: use this to look the avatar eyes on stuff, give actors targets. Alt+Cam is also handy to lock the camera and then have the avatars move around in POV sorta. A good move is to have someone walk with your camera locked on them and then swirl around them using alt+cam.

3D Connexion Joystick: Good cam controller and does in particular xlent vertical pan shots. You need to check the SL viewer settings and then enable it. It will revert to mouse if you click on something. alt+shift+f to jump into flycam mode

Viewer UI Off: toggle UI with ctrl+alt+F1, toggle HUDs with shift+alt+H

Fraps Record: F9

Editing Machinimas

Editing software: Adobe Premiere good for editing, transitions, title, keying. There are many other editing packages, but I give this top rating and it isn’t too pricey.

Fake Lip Moves: Crazytalk is sorta cool/sorta weird thing, but adds to production values if you can get it right. Go tight and have a few head set-ups to switch around. Also try an over the shoulder view on the person listening inworld to make it look like a conversation.

Post-edit cooler stuff: Consider After Effects usually too tired after shooting all this stuff, but there are some cool effects to work in here.

Get rights to music!: people sometimes will donate their music or pay to use something from a righted music source like Unique Tracks. But, sorry, no you can’t really use itunes stuff just because everyone else does or because no one is really gonna watch your vid anyway.

Remix Soundtrack: using Audacity or simple stuff in Premiere. Voice can add a lot to production valuebut bad voice is er…really *cough* bad.

Compression: for webh264 seems ok. But you can also throw big ‘ole .avi’s at youtube and blip and let them compresswhich usually is good. Plus you will want to keep the .avi on your pc as your best quality verison.

Showing Machinimas

YouTube: is best really still best choice, especially now that you can upload HD and large files. We also use because they have a nice viewer and statistics. Both offer ad revenues. Check also Note that some other sites are actually yanking down machinimas–we have heard that vimeo is doing this without warning.

SEO: Make sure you keyword videos and link to blog posts. Use descriptive SEO friendly titles and full descriptions listing credits, cast, music credits.

Please let’s us know if you have tried and used our checklist and tips on making machinimas. We do regular machinimas in Heritage Key .

Free Guided Tours of King Tut Virtual

Heritage Key is offering free guided tours of King Tut Virtual. You can join me for a guided tour of the virtual experience any weekday at 11am and 5pm London UKtime (GMT).

Each tour lasts for an hour and is meant as a casual introduction to get you started on the right foot for your virtual experience.

If you have never been in the virtual world before this a great opportunity as I will be there to answer any of your questions and help you with any problems you might come across.

The tours will cover everything from virtual navigation to customising your avatar and taking photos in the virtual world, or just simply exploring and having fun.

During that one hour we will take a balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings, do some digging as we search for treasure, have a taste of the Nile and Amarna period, and finish with a tour of the King Tut exhibiton – one of the most amazing galleries in the virtual world. The video below, which was created in the Cosmic Gallery and focuses on a cosmetic jar from the tomb of King Tut, gives you some idea of the kind of artefacts on display:

How to find the Guided Tours

Simple Steps to follow to find me daily at the Valley of the Kings.

  • First Go virtual
  • Once your avatar is created and you land in the King Tut Virtual you will see a sign for Daily Guided tours as in the photo here on the right.
  • Please click on the image to be transported to the Valley of the Kings to start your journey.

You can always contact me at or check out the calendar for update on the events at King Tut Virtual

MOVIE: Cosmetic Jar with Recumbent Lion on Display in King Tut Virtual

Before you start make sure you register your avatar, then come and join me – Lokum Shilova – in the Valley of The Kings. I’ll be there every day at 11am and 5pm for an hour of fun-filled exploration. See you there!

Naked Ladies: Belly Dancers of Ancient Egypt

Belly Dancing - does it lead us to Ancient Egypt? Image Credit - Andrew Hecht.As a child growing up in Turkey, belly dancing was a big part of the ‘dress up and play’ life of every little girl, and most girls learnt how to dance either from their mums or other women in the family. At gatherings such as weddings and parties, women would rush to show off their talents to the rhythm of the drum-based oriental music. Even now, many young women practice the ancient dance, often in modern guise. Perhaps modern divas like Shakira have something to do with it.

Described as the ‘world’s oldest dance’, over the years, belly dancing has became a very sensual display, practised by scantily-clad dancers draped in silk, tassles, and sparkles, with their belly – the central part of the dancer – exposed. Now most commonly associated with Turkey and Egypt, the roots of the dance are nebulous. From where did these sensual moves originate, and how different is the modern version than its ancient incarnation?

The Dancers of Ancient Egypt: More Skin – Less Bling

Dancers on the wall of an ancient Egyptian tomb. Image Credit - Celeste Goulding.A report by Patricia Spencer, Director of the Egypt Exploration Society, first published by Raqs Sharqi Society, describes the role of dance in Ancient Egypt. The report claims dance was a common element in religous ceremonies, and sometimes used in the harvest season to celebrate yields. “From their work it can be seen that ancient Egyptian women enjoyed dancing just as much as their descendents today,” she says.

Drawings and engravings fom the tombs and temples of Ancient Egypt suggest professional dancers existed in the empire. These dancers would perform in all-female groups, called “khener”, and there is evidence that women would also dance in tombs for the deceased, and at familybanquets.

Dancing in temples, however, was a different matter. Both male and female dancers took part, although Spencer suggests these dances were more ritualistic, and less sensuous than the all-female versions.

Dancers usually wore nothing but a simple cloth or leather around their hips and a white headdress, with the rest of their body bare.

Tomb of NebamunIn Ancient Egypt cymbals attached to their fingers – called zills – were used widely as musical instrument to keep the rhythm which were similar to those used by belly dancers today.

Travelling Dancers

Egypt was always open to the influence of other cultures, especially those of the Greeks and Romans. But there is evidence the dance predates even these influences.

In fact according to worldbellydance, the dance originated 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, and spread across Rome, North Africa, Spain and India – where travelling gypsies then carried the dance further out to Afghanistan, Turkey, Europe and then Egypt.

We see evidence of belly dancing – or the ‘Dance of the East’ ( Raqs Sharqi) – in the Christian bible in the case of Salome. As she dances for her stepdad Herod the movements described are reminiscent of belly dancing.

The dance I practiced as a child, which is still seen in Turkey today, was probably most influenced by the gypsy ‘Chengi’s of 15th Century Turkey. However, the influence of the ancient Egyptians and their wide-ranging predecessors is still discernable. The movements have probably changed very little, and the sensuality prevails, although most dancers will be grateful that the outfits offer a little more support these days!

If you enjoy belly dancing like I do you can see many performances from the likes of BDSS, or take up belly dancing yourself for exercise or just for fun. It’s great fun to strengthen your belly muscles to the rhthyms of Oriental Music. The ancient Egyptians did look rather slim on those drawings, so it must work!

HK How To: Customise Your Avatar, Ancient Egyptian Style

Virtual DressUp

You have made it to King Tut Virtual? Then now it is time to experiment with customising your avatar. In King Tut Virtual, we give you many options to choose from. You can wander around in casual clothes, or decide to really play the part as an adventurer kitted out with accessories, or an Egyptian goddess from the Amarna era.

In this guide to virtual fashion, I will focus on some of the glamorous ancient Egyptian dresses and jewellery. These dresses and jewellery were designed by Avagardner Kungler, a very well known virtual fashion designer in the metaverse.

This will give you a taste of the endless amount of things you can do with your avatar while exploring the ancient artefacts and digging in the Valley of the Kings.

Just make sure that you change into your adventure clothing while you are engrossed in your digging game!

Master your Inventory

While in the virtual world, you will see on the bottom of the screen on the far left hand side you have a button called Inventory. Inventory is where you keep all your clothing, hair, shoes etc. It’s like your wardrobe.

When we say ‘customise your avatar’ we mean not only changing clothes but also changing your hairstyle, colour of your skin, shape of your body, colour of your eyes, and even the size of your feet. Everything’s possible and it gets even more fun as you get better at dressing your avatar.

As you can see in the photo on the left, my skin colour, hair style and my clothes are all different from the first photo above.

Click on ‘Inventory’:

This will open a rectangular window on your screen with a long list of clothing, hair, and skin folders you can choose from.

Let’s start by changing your skin colour. In your inventory find White Female Folder.

  • Double-click on the folder and the folder will open with more goodies inside.
  • Double-click on one of the four tones of white skin, or alternatively right click and choose the wear option.

You will see in a minute that your avatar’s skin colour has changed from a darker tone to lighter skin.

You then carry on dressing up with the clothing and have fun trying different options until you’re happy with your look.

More To Follow

In this blog, I have only selected a handful of clothing and different accessories to show you only the start of endless possibilities for your dress up options.

As you get through Heritage Key, you will find yourself in the Nile area with a gorgeous view and in the Amarna house lies the treasure of the Egyptian clothing.

Click on the each frame to pick up your next dress . We do have a great selection for each taste in different colour options.

In the following blogs, I will try to cover different options of styles. Watch virtual ancient fashion here at Heritage Key.

Have Fun and do make sure that you change into your adventure clothing while you are engrossed in your digging game!

Virtual Globe-Trotting For Beginners

Lots of us would love to explore the ancient world, but we can’t always travel as much as we’d like. A variety of things – disabilities, lack of money, fear of flying – can get between you and your globetrotting dreams.

As you can imagine, while working for Heritage Key Icome across all sorts of content that sets me dreaming about distant lands. There are endless amounts of travel blogs, travel guides, and photoblogs, where people are generous enough to share their experiences in great detail. On Flickr alone there are millions of photos by professionals, amateurs and avid travellers.

Some sites offer a more immersive experience than others. As a keen armchair explorer, here are a few of my favourite destinations:

These websites mostly cover World Heritage Tours, mostly aiming to cover all of the UNESCOWorld Heritage sites. They use the latest QTVR technology to create panaromic movies, images and applications, covering China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam and Egypt. For the more adventurous traveller, you can even take a trip to the moon. It can be a bit hard to navigate and, yes, it has got its limits. But overall, I’m pretty impressed.

So last month, I spent the easter holiday with my family in Istanbul and took my kids to see the Aya Sofiya (Hagia Sofia) in Sultanahmet. It’s an incredible place, and I took some decent shots. But don’t just take my word for it. If you want to have a real taste of the area get in your swivel seat and log on to some QTVR. Or go there. You could always just go there.

Image by Meral Crifasi. All rights reserved.

Dawn at Stonehenge – tips from an amateur photographer

Stonehenge, 5:30 am, beginning of the journey on a sping morning. As we have approached the Stonehenge from a hilltop, I could spot the dark silhouttes of the stones from far away at the middle of the vast ground covered with frost. We wanted to catch the first sunlight over the stones. The golden hour is said to be 30 minutes before sunrise. Light is the most important of all photography elements. Many professional photographers believe early dawn or twilight dusk offer the best light for taking landscape pictures. I am not a professional photographer but one starts experimenting somehow and hoping this will give some magical, mystical feeling to my photography at the end.

We were lucky , of course, hard to think lucky when your fingers and toes are literally frozen after an hour or so trying to find the right angle, right speed on your camera. Lucky in a sense that it’s a clear morning and we can see the moon over the stones, the frost on the grass and the mist over the ground which gives the magical look around us. As the clock approaches 6:30 we are overjoyed as kids by the first rays of warm sun peeking right before our eyes. Warm, of course I meant only in color not in any form of heat and it is still quite cold.

I had a Nikon D 70 camera with a great lense Nikon 18 – 200 mm the best ever all in one lense. Yes, the camera and the lense is important but more so the following tips.

Crucial Tips :

  • With this lense you don’t need a tripod but if you don’t have this lense you will definelty need one. Check here why VR is important !
  • Raise ISO to 400 if possible and shoot RAW: RAW is much more flexible in editing afterwards
  • You want the greatest depth of field possible, you should set your lens to a small aperture.
  • and you need warm clothing and gloves … cause it’s pretty cold out there at 5:30 am and believe me the first rays of sun doesn’t warm you up a bit.

This has been truly a magical experience. I highly recommend it to everyone but wrap up warm.