Syria’s Palmyra arch, destroyed by IS, recreated in London
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Syria’s Palmyra arch, destroyed by IS, recreated in London

Egyptian marble replica of 2,000-year-old relic made using 3D imaging technology

A replica of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph is erected in Trafalgar Square, central London, on 18 April 2016.
The original arch was destroyed by the Islamic State group (IS) and the replica has been crafted using the latest 3D printing and carving technologies by the Institute for Digital Archaeology. (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)
A replica of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph is erected in Trafalgar Square, central London, on 18 April 2016. The original arch was destroyed by the Islamic State group (IS) and the replica has been crafted using the latest 3D printing and carving technologies by the Institute for Digital Archaeology. (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)

LONDON — A 2,000-year-old triumphal arch destroyed by the Islamic State group in Syria has been recreated in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The Arch of Triumph in Palmyra formed part of one of the world’s most extensive ancient archaeological sites.

The six-meter (20-foot) Egyptian marble replica — about two-thirds the size of the original — was created by the Institute for Digital Archaeology from photographs of the original site using 3-D imaging technology.

London Mayor Boris Johnson was unveiling the model Tuesday. It will stay in London for three days before traveling to cities including New York and Dubai.

Islamic State group terrorists overran Palmyra in May 2015, demolishing Roman-era monuments including the archway and two large temples dating back more than 1,800 years. Syrian government forces retook the city last month.

The recreation of the Triumphal Arch is made of Egyptian marble and was carved in the northern Italian region of Tuscany.

A combination of images shows a general view (top) taken on June 19, 2010 of the Arc de Troimphe (Triumph's Arc) prior to being destroyed by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in October 2015 and the remains of the iconic structure after government troops recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from IS fighters on March 27, 2016. / AFP / LOUAI BESHARA AND STRINGER
A combination of images shows a general view (top) taken on June 19, 2010 of the Arc de Troimphe (Triumph’s Arc) prior to being destroyed by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in October 2015 and the remains of the iconic structure after government troops recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from IS fighters on March 27, 2016. / AFP / LOUAI BESHARA AND STRINGER

The project is the brainchild of the Oxford-based Institute of Digital Technology (IDA), a joint venture between a group of international academics.

“Monuments, as embodiments of history, religion, art and science, are significant and complex repositories of cultural narratives,” said Roger Michel, director of the IDA, in a statement released before the event.

“No one should consider for one second giving terrorists the power to delete such objects from our collective cultural record.”

Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site northeast of Damascus known as the “Pearl of the Desert,” was a major tourist destination before the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011.

The jihadists destroyed some of the city’s most striking monuments and used the ancient amphitheater as a venue for public executions. They also beheaded Palmyra’s 82-year-old former antiquities chief.

The remains of the Triumphal Arch, dating back to the era of Roman Emperor Severus in the third century, are scattered on the ground, with only the two columns that once sustained the central crown still standing.

Construction of the replica arch in Trafalgar Square, in front of Britain’s National Gallery, started on Monday.

The arch is the highest-profile project yet for the IDA, which is also working on building a Million Image Database of 3D pictures of threatened monuments in conflict zones throughout the Middle East and north Africa.

It says it is distributing around 5,000 low-cost 3D cameras to volunteers around the regions who will then upload them to the open-source database.

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