Here at DigVentures, it would be fair to say that we have fully embraced the opportunities that advances in 3D imaging and printing have created, but this new replication project from the Digital Institute of Archaeology (DIA) takes it all to a whole new level… They’re proposing to 3D print life-sized replica of the Temple of Bel for World Heritage Week, which this year has the theme ‘replication and reconstruction’
You may or may not have heard of it, but the entrance of this temple is soon to be placed in the international spotlight. The 15m arched structure is now all that remains of the inner temple complex dedicated to the chief Mesopotamian god Bel in the Syrian city of Palmyra. Devastatingly the rest of the temple was destroyed by ISIS in August last year, leaving only this entranceway and parts of the outer complex.
Dedicated in 32AD, the Temple of Bel was once amongst the best preserved ruins in Palmyra and a popular tourist site. The temple would have formed the centre of religious life in the ancient city (one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world). Significantly, its multiple architectural styles reflected the changing cultures that influenced the city for nearly two centuries.
The full-scale replicas of the temple due to grace our shores will be 3D approximations constructed using thousands of existing 2D photographs of the site. These will be printed in sections and then constructed on site in both Trafalgar and Times Square.
The principle aim of the project is to highlight the international importance of cultural heritage, but it will also carry a strong political message of defiance, drawing international attention to the heritage destruction in Syria, Iraq and Libya, as well as demonstrating that the extremist’s attempts to erase evidence of a pre-Islamic history in the Middle East will ultimately be in vain.
“If you destroy something we can rebuild it” says the IDA’s executive director and he’s right, with advances in 3D technology developing at an astonishing speed, the ‘destruction to erase’ tactics employed by these extremists will increasing fail to achieve their desired goal.
Though the replicas can’t replace the real thing, and the demolition of these monuments will continue to deal a harsh blow globally, this project and those like it will ensure that the vital evidence of past cultures remains for future generations, despite the efforts of those who wish to destroy them.
By bringing replicas of the monuments into the forefront of the western world the project also aims to demonstrate that their relevance is not limited to the region in which they happen to be situated – cultural heritage is shared by us all globally,
This game-changing project is set to ensure that none of us can ignore the plight of our global heritage and makes a bold stand against those who would wish to deprive us of it.
For those of you hoping to catch a glimpse of these impressive life-sized replicas, World Heritage Week is scheduled for April 2016.
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