For over half a decade the civil war in Syria has taken its toll on the country, devastating its population, its landscape, and its culture. And while there is no resolution in sight for the ongoing conflict, there are at least some efforts to preserve and save—in any way possible—vestiges of Syria’s rich history and culture. One such effort, known by the name #NEWPALMYRA, is doing its part to capture lost landmarks and monuments from the ancient city of Palmyra, using 3D scanning and 3D printing. More than just trying to preserve, however, #NEWPALMYRA is using technology to reconstruct and think of the future of Palmyra in an accessible, open-source way.
In 2015, however, the city was overrun and taken over by the terror organization ISIS, which proceeded to destroy and damage much of the city. Since then, Palmyra has gone between ISIS and Syrian control. Most recently, the Syrian Army regained control of the site in March 2017. The Tetrapylon, one of the most famous monuments in Palmyra, was one casualty of ISIS’ invasion, as the impressive structure was destroyed earlier this year. Recently, however, a 3D printed version of the Tetrapylon was unveiled, a gesture which showed that while the original structure (constructed in about AD 270) is physically gone, it is not forgotten and still exists in some way.
The two-meter-tall 3D printed Palmyra structure, which was realized by #NEWPALMYRA, was recently unveiled at the Creative Commons Summit, which took place from April 28-30 in downtown Toronto. Barry Threw, the interim director of #NEWPALMYRA, said of the project:
“A preservation project is the wrong way to think about this. We’re looking forward more than backward, taking this place that’s a symbolic battleground for control over the Syrian cultural identity and its people, and sort of freeing it, digitally.”