A new Youtube video is showing the results of a project by history students at the University of Oslo where they recreate how a city looked in the Middle Ages.
‘Oslo recreated to year 1300’ was made by undergraduates taking part in the university’s Oslo in the Middle Ages course under John McNicol. The project involved them actually visiting the ruins of the old city of Oslo, taking measurements of the structures and recreating them on Minecraft, the popular video game that allows users to build entire cites.
In an email to Medievalists.net, Professor McNicol said, “As lecturers at universities we have now stepped over the digital threshold. There are so many possibilities and we are facing a creative but also chaotic world of teaching and learning. I think we need to use these possibilities.”
McNicol made use of the Minecraft Education Edition software from MinecraftEdu, which is a custom edition of the game with features designed especially for classroom use “The students study the syllabus,” he explains, “write an assignment, measure the ruins they are to recreate, plan it and build it. Doing this they have to make many decisions I think they learn a lot of. For instance the church of St. Mary`s was first build as a wooden church around 1020, then a Romanesque church around 1100, before it was rebuilt as a gothic brick stone church in the 1290`s. The students most learn all this to be able to reconstruct their church.”
The city of Oslo served as the capital of Norway around beginning of the 14th century. However, the city saw its fortunes decline in the later Middle Ages, and in the year 1624 a major fire destroyed much of Oslo. Afterwards it was decided by King Christian IV to rebuild the city at a different location, and the ruined old city was turned into farmland. The ruins are now a protected historical site.
McNicol adds, “another important thing is that the students should be proud of their work, I hope this will motivate them to continue studying history and hopefully work harder. Many of the students told that the became so immersed in the building that they stayed up all night.”
Look for more videos about the Oslo in the Middle Ages Minecraft project to come out in the future.
See also: Minecraft and the Middle Ages