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3D Printed Replica of Palmyra Arch ISIS Tried to Destroy to Be Erected in New York and London

The ruins of the Temple of Bel in Syria were among the best preserved at Palmyra, until destroyed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The only remaining monument of the over 2,000 year old UNESCO World Heritage Site is the 15-meter-high entrance arch.

December 29, 2015: The Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), a collaboration between Harvard University, the University of Oxford and Dubai’s Museum of the Future, is going to rebuilt the arch as an act of defiance against the terrorists.

“It is really a political statement, a call to action, to draw attention to what is happening in Syria and Iraq and now Libya,” explained Roger Michel, executive director of the IDA. “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.”

Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria; Image: Bernard Gagnon
Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria; Image: Bernard Gagnon

The IDA will use 2D photographs along with images collected in their database to create a 3D model of the arch. The full-scale 3D printed replicas will be assembled and erected at Time Square in New York City and Trafalgar Square in London during the World Heritage Week in April 2016.

As part of their Million Image Database project, the IDS will hand out around 5,000 3D cameras to volunteer photographers in order to capture millions of 3D images of threatened objects. The project is a collaboration with UNESCO, engineering specialists at Oxford University and the government of the UAE.

“While there are those who seek to encourage us to forget the past – to forget the shared history that unites us – we are dedicated to ensuring that the visual reminders that keep that history alive remain a part of the human experience,” IDA states.


September 20, 2016: Update – 3D printed replica arrives in New York City

The replica, which was first showcased in Trafalgar Square in London, was now erected in City Hall Park in New York City.

Image: The Verge

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said at the unveiling ceremony that the arch is “first and foremost an act of solidarity” with the people of Syria. But it’s also “an act of defiance” that sends the message that “we will not stand for acts of terrorism, we will not stand for people murdered and thrown out of their country.”

The arch will stay in New York City for a week, with its next destination being Dubai.

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