A replica of the Roman Arch of Triumph, the 1,800-year-old Syrian monument destroyed by Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in October 2015, was erected in London’s Trafalgar Square on Tuesday as part of World Heritage Week.
Created by the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA) using 3D technology, the model was based on photographs of the original arch’s positioning in Palmyra, northeast of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Syria's director-general of antiquities and museums , Maamoun Abdulkarim said it was an "action of solidarity," BBC News reports.
Following its display in Trafalgar Square for three days, the model be transported to other big cities around the world, including New York’s Time Square in September. Next year, it will be unveiled in Palmyra where it will permanently remain.
"It is a message of raising awareness in the world," adds Abdulkarim. "We have common heritage. Our heritage is universal—it is not just for Syrian people."
The £200,000, 20ft-tall model weighs just under 12 tons. Experts from Oxford and Harvard universities and the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) used 3D images stored in the IDA’s Million Image Database to replicate the exact shape and design of the original monument.
Roger Michel, executive director of the Oxford-based IDA said he aims to "promptly (and, of course, thoughtfully)" restore monuments so that terrorists don’t have "the power to delete such objects from our collective cultural record."
Alexy Karenowska, the IDA’s director of technology also emphasises the importance of reconstructing destroyed cultural monuments: “This arch is not a physical replacement,” said Ms Karenowska. “When objects have been destroyed in a wanton act of censorship it feels wrong to let a hostile force dictate the appearance and apparent history of a place, a region, a people,” the Financial Times reports.