August 2015, ISIS the terrorist organisation destroyed the arch of Palmyra which was the only remaining part of the Temple of Bel. Even the 82-year-old Syrian archaeologist Mr. Khaled al-Asaad was killed during the raid and his body was hung in public. This horrific act was condemned by people world over and made them act seriously to preserve the historic sites located in Iraq, and parts of Arabian Peninsula. This inspired the IDA and UNESCO to distributed 5000 3d scanners to the locals for them to capture as much as they could of the vulnerable historic structures in the conflict areas of Arabia. The images thus captured would be uploaded to “million-image database” which can be used as a reference to create 3D models of these historic sites and eventually be 3D Printed.
IDA was not able to capture 3D Images of the arch of Palmyra, but the designers were able to make the 3d Model of the same using the reference from 2D images captured by archaeological researchers and tourists who visited the sites before the conflict started.
This 3D Model would be printed on printers in China Shanghai, and would be finished in Italy and finally be assembled at the Trafalgar Square, London. The 3D replica would be printed in pieces and then be assembles like a huge Lego Installation. The location of this 3d Replica was chosen precisely because over the years the Trafalgar Square has seen numerous political demonstrations and when this huge structure is ready it would stand as a symbol of defiance against acts of terrorism.
Alexy Karenowska, the IDA’s director of technology spoke to the members of the press and said “People in the west find it very easy to say that the Middle East has this great cultural heritage and this problem [of its destruction] is something that’s happening to them. The idea is to underline that cultural heritage is something that’s shared between people. It’s about people’s roots and it’s important to recognize also that this is something that as humans we do all understand on some deep level.”
We cannot bring back the real Arch of arch of Palmyra, but this 3d printed replica would stand as a reminder of the barbaric acts of the ISIS and could act as a lesson for the world leaders to act immediately on such organisations in the future. Roger Michel, the IDA’s executive director added “It is really a political statement, a call to action, to draw attention to what is happening in Syria and Iraq and now Libya. We are saying to them ‘if you destroy something we can rebuild it again’. The symbolic value of these sites is enormous. We are restoring dignity to people.”
The 3D Printed arch would be ready and would be open for public display during World Heritage Week in April. There are plans to make similar models to be displayed at the times square in New York and eventually the whole temple would be rebuild at the site once in Syria after the war is over.
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