Khufu Reborn Interactive–The Guided Tour

   Posted by: Keith Payne   

Categories: Old Kingdom, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau

If you weren’t able to make it to the premier of Khufu Reborn, the second episode of Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theory of how the Great Pyramid of Khufu was built, then you are in luck—the full presentation is now available on the web, courtesy of Dassault Systèmes!  This isn’t just a dry lecture with some slides, this is the full 3D presentation, with narration.

In addition to providing the full simulation illustrating Jean-Pierre’s theory in detail, the Khufu Reborn universe is interactive.  You can actually navigate you way around the Giza Plateau of 4,500 years ago.  But if you aren’t ready to dive into Khufu’s world just yet, this Em Hotep tour and tutorial will equip you for the journey.


On January 27, 2011, Khufu Reborn premiered at La Géode in Paris, France.  This was the official launch of Episode Two of Jean-Pierre Houdin’s work with the Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu.  The presentation was a stunning larger than life 3D simulation of the Giza Plateau, the pyramid, and a detailed explanation of Jean-Pierre’s theory.  But if you were unable to attend the premier, Dassault Systèmes has brought it to you, right to your desktop.

Marc Chartier, Jean-Pierre Houdin, and Keith Payne at the premier of Khufu Reborn (Courtesy of Marc Chartier)

Now you can log on to the Project Khufu section of the Dassault Systèmes website, download a small plugin, and see the presentation in its entirety, but with an advantage those of us in attendance did not have—at any point during the presentation you can take control and travel to anyplace in the Khufu Reborn universe to look at things in as much detail as you wish.  Here is the link to the site:

Click Here to Go Back 4,500 Years to Khufu’s Egypt!

Feel free to click on and jump right in!  But if you would like a short guided tour, then do read on.


The Khufu Reborn online interactive simulation is rendered in such detail that it really has to be seen to be believed.  And despite having all of the eye-popping graphics and navigational freedom of a cutting edge first-person video game, this universe is not by any stretch make-believe.  The environment is based on accurate surveys of the Giza Plateau and the pyramid itself, with the clock turned back 4,500 years.  Ancient details, based on up-to-date archaeological evidence, have been recreated in a way that lets you move through the Giza Plateau of Khufu and his Master Builder, Hemiunu.

When you first go to the site you will land at the Khufu Reborn: The Story Continues page where you can watch a brief introductory video.  The video gives you an idea of how Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theory has evolved and will set the stage for the journey you are about to embark upon.  After the video, click on the Discover a unique interactive 3D experience with 3dVia button located below the video.

The first thing that will happen is you will be prompted to install the 3dVia software from the Dassault Systèmes website.  You need the 3dVia software to run the simulation, and since the software comes direct from Dassault Systèmes you can be assured that it is safe, virus and ad-ware free, and that your privacy will be in no way compromised.  Once the software is installed on your computer you are ready to visit the Giza Plateau of 4,500 years ago.

You next find yourself at the loading screen for the simulation, as shown below.

Note the blue progress bar in the lower right-hand of the screen.  This bar does not move at a regular pace and will possibly seem to freeze up as the simulation is loading, but be patient!  The Khufu Reborn simulation is a very detailed program and some of the segments can take a while to load, and you may begin to suspect that the program is frozen.  You may even get a pop-up window saying that the plug-in appears to have stopped, asking if you want to cancel it.  Choose “no” as it is almost certainly still loading.  The wait will be worth it.

Another thing discovered during beta testing was that pulling up another application, or even another window from your browser, can cause the simulation to actually lock up, so I would recommend that you visit the Khufu Reborn universe at a time when you can dedicate your computer to just exploring the simulation.  Give yourself about an hour for your first visit so you have time for all of the narrated segments, as well as time to explore on your own.  It is, after all, interactive!

After the simulation finishes loading you will be at the intro screen, as appears below.

There are five different sections, and for your first visit you might want to take the entire tour, starting with the first section, The two enigmas of the Great Pyramid.

When you click on two enigmas you will again be greeted with the loading screen.  Allow the program time to load.  The gods of Egypt will be impressed with your patience.  I would again reiterate that while the loading screen is present don’t pull up another program or browser window.  This will displease the gods, who will punish you with a genuinely locked up simulation.  The good news is that once the segments are loaded the program is extremely stable.  While writing this tutorial I was able to switch back and forth between Google Chrome, MS Word, and Photoshop while the simulation was loaded and running without a single crash.

The Two Enigmas section will begin with a flight up the Nile to the Valley Temple and the scene of Khufu’s embalming.  The narration will begin, explaining what you are seeing.  After that we are again off and flying—up the course of Khufu’s Royal Causeway, over the Upper Temple, and circling around for a great view of the Great Pyramid.

This might be a good opportunity for your first experiment with the interactive part of the simulation.  If you click on the button labeled Free Navigation Mode in the lower right of the screen you will find that the narrative stops and the buttons change to say Normal, Expert, and Play Mode.  If the Expert button is lit up, click on Normal.  The screen should now have some navigation controls in the upper right of the screen.

The navigation controls operate the virtual camera that flies you through the simulation.  With the narration paused, you are now in full control.  The controls are pretty easy to use.  The +/- on the left side of the controls allow you to tip the camera angle up or down.  The directional keys in the center of the circle move the camera forward and backward and from left to right.  The +\- on the right of the control allows you to zoom in and out.  The left/right arrows at the bottom allow you to pan the camera circularly left and right.  As simple as these commands are, they allow you to travel practically anywhere on the landscape and observe from any angle and distance.

In the above image I have navigated over to get a closer look at the boat pits.  Take a little time playing with the navigation controls to get a feel for how they work.  The movement is very intuitive and in no time you will be flying around the virtual environment like Horus himself.  When you are done, press the Play Mode button and the camera automatically reorients itself and the narration resumes where it left off.

Once the two enigmas segment has finished you will want to return to the intro screen to select the next segment.  You will notice that at all times when in the simulation there are three small icons in the upper left of the screen.  The first icon, shaped like a house, is the Home button.  Press this at any time during or after a segment to return to the intro screen.  The middle icon, with the question mark is a Help button.  The third icon, shaped like a gear, pulls up the Options panel.

The Options panel allows you to toggle the music and narration on and off, as well as switch to full screen mode.  You will also notice that you have an option to immerse yourself more fully into the Khufu Reborn universe with 3D.  You can either set the simulation to work with a 3D TV, or you can go the old fashioned route and don your 3D shades.  The old cardboard type with the red and blue lenses will work just fine.  After checking out the Options panel, click on the Home button to return to the intro screen.

Back at the intro screen, you will notice that if you move the cursor over the next section, The genius of the builders, that you have three options:  the Fifth Year, the Fourteenth Year, and the Fifteenth Year, each representing different phases of the construction leading up to the King’s Chamber.

For your first trip through I recommend taking the sections in order so you get both a fuller understanding of Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theory and a complete idea of what the Khufu Reborn universe contains.  The simulation is intended to be enjoyable and educational, but it is also a tool for your own research, so it is worth the time invested to learn how it works.

Once the genius of the builders—the fifth year segment has loaded you will notice that there is an arrow icon on the left side of the screen.  If you run your cursor over this icon the Timeline will appear, as pictured below.

The Timeline is divided into chapters and you can either move the segment forward or backward using the vertical sliding bar, or jump straight to a chapter by clicking on it.  Not all segments have chapters, so the Timeline will not be available everywhere.  As always, you can pause the narration at any time and take control of the camera by clicking on the Free Navigation mode button.

The last thing we will look at is the top bar of the display where you will see buttons labeled Khufu Reborn, 3D Experience, The Story, and Clues.  You will notice that the 3D Experience button is toggled while you are in the simulation.  Khufu Reborn simply takes you back to the screen with the introduction video.  The Story gives you the option to download a pdf (or pull it up in your browser”) of the press kit that was provided at the Khufu Reborn premier.  This tells the story of how Jean-Pierre Houdin became interested in the Great Pyramid, how Dassault Systèmes became involved in the project through their Passion for Innovation program, and touches on some of Dassault Systèmes’ other current projects on the Giza Plateau.

Clues gives you an opportunity to evaluate the evidence for Jean-Pierre’s theory for yourself.  There are two videos—one explaining the counterweight system in the Grand Gallery and another explaining “Bob’s Room”, the corner room first explored by Bob Brier.  There is also another pdf file you can view and download called “Khufu’s Pyramid—The “Inside-Out” Construction Theory:  34 Clues in Support for the Theory”.  If you are skeptical of Jean-Pierre’s theory, then this is the place to get some answers.  Here Jean-Pierre lays out the physical evidence for his theory in detail.

That pretty much concludes this guided tour of the Khufu Reborn online interactive experience.  Go forth now and explore!


Click Here to Go Back 4,500 Years to Khufu’s Egypt!


Copyright by Keith Payne, 2011.  All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all images are provided courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin and Dassault Systèmes, copyright 2011, all rights reserved.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 at 2:49 am and is filed under Old Kingdom, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far

Kurt Burnum

This footage is amazing. I’ve watched it many times, and have studied it, with the help of Jean Pierre’ for over a month now. My intuition tells me, “There’s definitely something going on here!”.

January 30th, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hi Kurt,

Thanks for the feedback, I only wish you could have seen it in “larger than life” 3D, it was incredible! One of the really great things about this type of 3D/Virtual Reality is it allows the work to transcend language barriers. You can actually see how the theory fits together within the context of the architecture of the Great Pyramid.

One of the things I don’t think people always “get”, at least judging from some of the comments I have seen on other forums (not many, but they are there) is that this is not just a video game or an overblown Sims kind of thing. The 3D and VR are based on the most thorough survey of the Great Pyramid, combining work that has already been done with thousands of hours of new research.

These are the tools that are used in the highest end of industrial engineering and architecture, and they have been “loaned”, to Jean-Pierre along with unfettered access to all of the experts he needs to conduct his research. It is really a one of a kind opportunity. Or at least it was. Now the same tools are being used by the Djedi Project and to render the Harvard University/Boston Museum of Fine Arts Giza Archives into 3d/VR as well.

These are very exciting times for Egyptology, my friends…


January 30th, 2012 at 7:16 pm
Kurt Burnum

It’s refreshing to meet like minded people, and Jean Pierre is definitely one of them. He really has, “a flair for the, “down to earth” and seems very helpful, and open with everyday people like myself. His ideas will be the basis for pyramid construction techniques for the rest of the 21st century!

January 31st, 2012 at 8:34 pm

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