A Replica of the Destroyed Palmyra Arch Is on Display in London

Getty / Getty

In 2015, ISIL destroyed the historic, 2000-year-old triumphal arch from the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria. But now, with the help of the latest 3D machining technology, an exact replica of the original arch has been created in tribute. The Art Newspaper reports that the replica Palmyra arch is currently on display at London’s Trafalgar Square, and will eventually be erected in New York and Dubai later in the year.

While the original arch was carved by hand by the Ancient Romans, the new arch was made by machines using sophisticated 3D imaging technology. The BBC explains that researchers from the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA) used historic photographs of the arch to create a 3D model, then had that model carved into Egyptian marble by computer-controlled drills. 

Though the Palmyra arch, on its own, is an impressive feat of restoration through re-creation, it is also part of a larger ongoing preservation project spearheaded by the IDA. Over the course of the last year, volunteers for the IDA began photographing at-risk historical landmarks across the Middle East, building an immense database of high-resolution photos. While the destruction of these sites is tragic, the IDA hopes that by thoroughly documenting them, they could eventually begin to rebuild replicas of important landmarks.

The Palmyra arch, according to Alexy Karenowska, director of technology at the IDA, acts as an initial proof of concept, as well as a tribute to the rich history of the Middle East. Karenowska told The Art Newspaper, “The Trafalgar Square project is a celebration of the heritage of the Middle East and an optimistic response to the ongoing destruction of cultural sites.”

[h/t The Art Newspaper]