A VIRTUAL LEGACY LIVES ON

Text: Thomas Masuch Photos: #Newpalmyra

In recent years, the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Palmyra (Syria) has been taken over twice by the terrorist group IS, which has gone on to destroy numerous cultural treasures. The #NEWPALMYRA project now wants to employ open data and 3D printing to preserve the cultural heritage of the city, whose history reaches back more than 2,000 years.

At the recent Creative Commons Summit in Toronto, the team behind this effort unveiled its version of the Tetrapylon, which was one of Palmyra’s most famous monuments before its unfortunate destruction. The two-meter-high, 3D-printed replica was created based on data collected by the #NEWPALMYRA project.

The Texas company re:3D was tasked with printing the 91-kilogram reproduction, a process that took 800 hours. The #NEWPALMYRA project was initiated back in 2005 by 24-year-old Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian-Syrian software developer. Khartabil and his team managed to virtually reproduce many of Palmyra’s cultural monuments before he was arrested by the Assad regime in 2012.

»We want to continue to promote cultural understanding by making data available and encouraging people to use it.«

»We want to continue to promote cultural understanding by making this data available and encouraging people to use it,« states Barry Threw, interim director of #NEWPALMYRA. The 3D model of the Tetrapylon, for example, is available for viewing and further use under a CC0 license.

The restoration of cultural monuments using 3D printing is enjoying widespread support, as Italian experts recently demonstrated in reconstructing partially destroyed burial busts made of nearly 2,000-year-old limestone.

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