A replica of a 2,000-year-old Roman arch razed by ISIS in Syria last year was unveiled today in Trafalgar Square in London, the BBC reports. The two-thirds scale model was made by the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) using 3D computer models based on photographs of the original triumphal arch; the photos were taken by archaeologists and tourists before the city of Palmyra, where the arch stood, was captured by ISIS last May.
An arch of “technology and determination”
“We view the work of reconstruction as an important gesture of friendship and solidarity with people in the conflict regions — people with whom we share a common history, a history that is represented by the very artifacts and monuments we seek to protect and preserve,” says IDA’s executive director Roger Michel.
At the unveiling ceremony, London Mayor Boris Johnson said the replica was an arch of “technology and determination” and the people gathered in Trafalgar Square were “in defiance of the barbarians” who destroyed the arch in Palmyra, according to the BBC.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has become famous for looting and destroying artifacts from museums, as well as bulldozing temples, shrines, and monuments. The fundamentalist group’s war on cultural heritage is a propaganda tool. ISIS destroys religious monuments because the group opposes idol worship. Artifacts, at the same time, are sold to make a profit.
“It’s both propagandistic and sincere,” Columbia University historian Christopher Jones told National Geographic. “They see themselves as recapitulating the early history of Islam.”
The replica of the arch will remain in London for three days before making a tour around the world. Known stops are New York City and Dubai. Eventually, the arch will be taken to Palmyra, which was recaptured at the end of March.