Under the auspices of the UAE and in collaboration with UNESCO, the University of Oxford and Harvard University, a restored, three-dimensional version of Palmyra’s monumental Arch of Triumph – destroyed at the hands of the terrorist organisation, Daesh, was revealed on Tuesday.
In the presence of Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Managing Director of Dubai Future Foundation, as well as a number of specialists and subject-matter experts, interested parties and tourists, the historic arch gate of Palmyra’s Temple of Baal was reconstructed in New York City’s Times Square, facing the municipal building.
The reproduction of the Temple of Baal’s arch gate came as a result of a strategic partnership held between the UAE, UNESCO and the Institute for Digital Archeology – the essence of a global joint venture formed between the esteemed University of Oxford and Harvard University, aiming at documenting and rebuilding details of the region’s most prominent archeological sites using 3D imaging and printing techniques with a keen view to protect and preserve their legacy and cultural heritage in the event of exposure to existence-threatening conditions.
Al Gergawi said, "This project reflects the UAE’s beliefs in the importance of the region’s legendary history that outdoes any ideologies or extremist ideas trying to erase the identity and history of the region."
"The directives of Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, stipulated the mere necessity to revive and restore all that have been destroyed by the enemies of civilisation, as this region’s culture is a world heritage we must all preserve and maintain", he said.
Sponsored by the Museum of the Future, this project uses advanced imaging techniques to record, scan, store, and preserve a million images of the region’s culture, civilisation and archaeological attractions for the future. Hence, this would enable all countries, international organisations, specialists and subject-matter experts to reproduce historical monuments and landmarks with pinpoint accuracy and precision using state-of-the-art, 3D techniques.
"Cultural heritage and historical evidence of the region’s noble civilisations enjoy a special place in peoples’ mind and spirit, and have a scientific and epistemological importance as they represent key elements required to identify the societies’ identity and features", Al Gergawi stated.
"Our global mission aims at preserving human civilisation to future generations, in line with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, "to preserve our heritage, as it represents part of our intellectual civilisation, as well as a source of inspiration for innovators and pioneers that could be developed and built upon to keep up with future requirements", he added.
Al Gergawi noted, "In light of the rapid changes taking place in the region, the role of the next generation of technology becomes apparent in preserving the artifacts and heritage of the region from disappearance and destruction, so that they may remain as live witnesses for the next generations of the history of humanity's achievements over the centuries in the countries of the region and around the world."
He was speaking on the occasion of the unveiling of the model Arch of Triumph, made using 3D printing technology in a joint venture between the Dubai Future Foundation, UNESCO, Harvard University and the University of Oxford, a venture whose goal is to photograph and document archaeological sites that are under threat of destruction and extinction in the Arab region and to re-print them using 3D printing technology.
Al Gergawi said, "The UAE sends a clear message through this initiative to anyone who thinks they are capable of erasing the luminous pages of history and destroying testaments to human civilisation in the region through acts of sabotage, destruction and extremism. The UAE, together with its partners -friendly countries, international organisations and academic institutions- will focus efforts on rebuilding what has been and will be destroyed, in the belief that the human civilisation belongs to everyone and that its preservation is the right of future generations across the region and all over the world."
He also shed light on the various historical landmarks of the city of Palmyra starting with the ancient Greek era, through the time of the Romans and the Byzantine state, arriving at the Islamic era.
The UAE minister said Palmyra was a gathering place for the civilisations of the worlds, a vital trade center, a destination for thinkers, inventors and innovators, and a model of peaceful coexistence and tolerance between different societal groups across race, religion and culture, drawing a parallel to the present-day cultural model of the Emirates and the foundations upon which it was built.
The creation of this model of the historic Arch of Triumph falls under the strategic partnership of the Dubai Future Foundation, UNESCO, the Institute for Digital Archeology (UK) and the joint venture between the University of Oxford and Harvard University, as part of a global project aimed at documenting the details of archaeological sites in the region using 3D imaging technology and then completely re-building them with 3D printing, to protect and preserve them from disappearing if they are at risk, in that they are a legacy of human civilisation.
In addition to the unveiling of the Arch, a gallery was inaugurated exhibiting 3D images which have been received through the "Million image" platform, the global initiative that falls under the same project. This initiative aims to encourage public and media institutions operating in countries where archaeological sites are at risk for destruction, to photograph the sites using 3D imaging technology and send them to the platform to be printed and rebuilt. The initiative was launched last April last in London, and has attracted 300 000 images so far of the different regions and archeological sites.
The Arch which was unveiled is two-thirds the size of the original Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, the model being 5.5 metres long, made of marble using 3D printing technology.
The Dubai Future Foundation had previously erected a model of the Arch of Triumph, which is a historic gate in Palmyra, in Trafalgar Square in London, in front of the British National Museum for a period of 3 days, in conjunction with the launch of the world's first academic program in the field of digital archeology at Harvard University, which is another of the initiatives that fall under the same project.