Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon’s New Theater Gives You a Front Row Seat to the Revolution

Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon’s Revolutionary War Theater just reopened after a $2 million renovation, and it’s ready to give you the immersive history experience you never knew you needed. As part of the renovation, the George Washington-centric museum has created a new 17-minute film that shows off the best the new Revolutionary War Theater has to offer as it dives into some of the pivotal battles of the American Revolution.

The film explores three of Washington’s major campaigns: Boston, Trenton, and Yorktown, placing guests within the ranks of the Revolutionary forces to give a more personal view of just how terrible conditions were. The 4D effects bring the weather inside the theater, immersing viewers in fog and falling snow as well as creating dramatic lighting. The seats vibrate and rumble as if shaking from cannon fire, and shells appear to fly overhead. The movie “will make you feel like you are standing right with Washington,” the Mount Vernon website trumpets.

A British soldier fights during a snowstorm.
Mount Vernon

It all sounds a little Disney-fied, but the estate has worked to make it as historically accurate as possible, so at least you’re learning plenty while you’re rumbling along in your seat. The feature includes appearances from Martha Washington and her husband’s enslaved valet, William Lee, along with more than 100 other reenactors who filmed the live-action sequences across Virginia.

If you can’t make it to a battle reenactment, Mount Vernon’s daily shows might be your best bet.

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NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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