Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph Replica Unveiled in Trafalgar Square—Next, On to Dubai & New York
We won’t forget—and we will not be beaten. This is the attitude encouraged in the face of terrorism, with one of the greatest actions reinforcing these words being that of rebuilding and moving forward despite great pain. And while it may be easy to say we will indeed not be intimidated by terrorism or brought down by the damage it inflicts on the very soul, the effort and sacrifices to carry on and make that point are often enormous, and require teamwork worldwide. As soldiers fight and leaders and enforcement and intelligence agencies around the globe work to protect their citizens, many others are also engaged in the challenging exercise of rebuilding, protecting, and preserving the history of the world.
While there are numerous—and generally horrific—fundamental tactics in terrorism, often the bottom line is to strike out at people when and where they know it will hurt the most, taking who and what is important. We’ve reported on numerous stories of museums and artists working to rebuild after ISIS has wreaked havoc and destruction, reducing ancient originals and valuable replicas to rubble, and the inspiration offered by so many people working together as they value artifacts, heritage, and history is a true testament to just how strong and good the human spirit can be in the face and devastation of evil.
Last year, we began following the work of the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) as they evaluated damage done by terrorists as well as that of what the future could hold, and began encouraging citizens to carry 3D cameras they have distributed in an effort to begin documenting before ancient buildings and pieces are lost forever, such as Palmyra’s Temple of Bel was. Brought to ruin by ISIS, the temple that was built over two millennia ago has been lost forever, and its iconic archway—all that was left standing—is now being used as a symbol to remind people of what happened, to encourage cooperation between all in working to preserve historical monuments however possible, and to stand strong in the face of the terrorists. As promised, the IDA has now made a replica of Palmyra’s ‘Arch of Triumph,’ thanks to 3D photo technology and carving, and it has made its first appearance—in what will be ongoing travels—in London.Now standing in Trafalgar Square, this replica of the ancient arch stands as “an action of solidarity,” according to Syria’s director of antiquities, Maamoun Abdulkarim. Only on display for a couple of days in this particular location, every moment is certainly being valued as spectators gather to see the replica of the arch, created as a scale model in Egyptian marble.
“It is extraordinary to have a vision about something and see it come together in such a palpable way,” said Roger Michel, executive director of the Oxford-based IDA.
The mayor of London was on hand too for the unveiling of the Arch, which he refers to rightfully as a symbol of ‘technology and determination’ that delivers a message of defiance in the face of terrible brutality. Many were completely overcome with emotion upon seeing the arch, but for some who remember and were touched by what Palmyra was like before the destruction of ISIS, nothing can replace it.
“It’s nothing like the real thing. It’s nice that it’s here and people are thinking about Palmyra, I was there before all the destruction occurred and it really is heart-rending to see what is happening. It’s sheer ignorance basically,” said Margot Wright, archaeologist.
It would be hard to miss the statement being made with the replica though, as crews brought in the giant piece and carefully set it up, with the mayor then unveiling the replica, meticulously crafted, and for all the crowd to see. The arch is two-thirds the size of the original, and stands five and a half meters in height (just over 18 feet tall).Next the arch will go to Dubai, then New York, and back to its homeland of Palmyra where it will stand somewhere next to the original, according to Roger Michel. The arch, traveling around the world for the inspiration of so many, will serve as an ongoing reminder of all that was lost—to include 280 who were executed during the claiming of the city—and how we must continue to fight remember those lost and to save history for future generations in whatever way possible.
As for Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph, the efforts that are being taken to educate, remind, and inspire people are indeed monumental all around. After the city was taken back from ISIS, it was established, according to Abdulkarim, that about 80% of the ancient sites were left standing. Their goal is to rebuild rather than attempt to create something completely new.
“It is a message of raising awareness in the world,” said Abdulkarim, who was in London to see the installation of the replica.
“We have common heritage. Our heritage is universal – it is not just for Syrian people.”
“We can never have the same image as before Isis,” said Abdulkarim. “We are trying to be realistic.”
“But what we want to do is respect the scientific method and the identity of Palmyra as a historic site.”
Thanks to 3D technology, we have so many more options in archiving and making historical replicas, and thanks to the affordability and speed with which this can be done, many ancient pieces in other museums can be cataloged, shared online, and offered to the public in traveling exhibits. Do you find this replica to be inspiring? Discuss further in the 3D Technology Helps Create Palmyra Arch forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: BBC News]
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