Saturday, January 2, 2016


SOON you can see a triumphal arch through which Antinous and Hadrian strode in the ancient city of Palmyra … recreated in the heart of London ... and in Manhattan.

The arch from a Palmyra temple believed to have been destroyed by DAESH Islamic State barbarians is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square ... and in Times Square in New York City during UNESCO World Heritage Week in April 2016.

The 2,000-year-old arch was all that remained of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May.

It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer.

The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage.

DAESH militants have ransacked and demolished several similar ancient sites to Palmyra that pre-date Islam in Iraq, denouncing them as symbols of "idolatry".

Alexy Karenowska, from the Institute of Digital Archaeology, which is behind the project, says she hopes it will help people understand how important it is to preserve cultural sites in war-torn countries such as Syria.

She says: "People say, 'should we be worrying about this stuff when human lives are being lost?'

"Of course all of this stuff takes second place to human life, but these cultural objects are very important to give a sense of place and community."

It's unknown if the Palmyra Arch was fully destroyed.

"The status is uncertain," says Karenowska, the institute's director of technology. 

"This is part of the motivation for selecting this particular object for the installation," she explains.

"Given the level of destruction in Palmyra, it seems unlikely it has survived without some damage, but if it remains standing in any form, it represents an outstanding symbol of resilience."

She adds: "If it doesn't, then the message is obviously just as powerful, but for different reasons."

The installation will be created off-site and then assembled at Trafalgar Square and Times Square.

In London, it will stand next to the National Gallery and Nelson's Column, both Neo-Classical in style.

The famous 15m (50ft) arch will also illustrate Britain and Syria's shared heritage, with the Greco-Roman architecture of Palmyra echoed by the neoclassical buildings of the National Gallery and Nelson's Column.

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