A 1,800-year-old arch destroyed by Daesh in the Syrian city of Palmyra last year is rising again in London and will also be displayed in Dubai.
The recreation of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph will stand for four days in Trafalgar Square after being made by carving stone to the exact shape of the original, working from a database of 3D photographs collected by the Institute of Digital Archaeology.
The two-thirds scale replica will be officially unveiled by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London today (Tuesday).
After its stay in London – which has been timed to coincide with World Heritage Week – the recreated arch will be taken around the world, visiting New York’s Times Square as well as Dubai, before being taken to Syria.
Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s director-general of antiquities and museums, who was in London to watch the structure being installed, said: “It is a message of raising awareness in the world. We have common heritage. Our heritage is universal – it is not just for Syrian people.”
In May last year Daesh captured Palmyra and set about using dynamite, bulldozers and pickaxes to destroy monuments at the Unesco World Heritage site.
At least 280 people were murdered during the occupation, which only ended in March.
Among them was Khaled al-Asaad, an 82-year-old archaeologist who was reportedly tortured for a month and then beheaded, having refused to reveal where some of the ancient city’s most valuable artefacts had been hidden.
Earlier this week, the first foreign experts who visited the museum in Palmyra after it was taken over from Daesh said they spent a week collecting fragments of priceless broken sculptures from the grounds in a rescue mission they hope will help salvage most of its contents.
The also revealed grim new details about the extent of the destruction caused by the extremists during their 10-month stay in the ancient town.
The museum was badly damaged and some of its best-known artifacts and statues were smashed by the militants, who cut off the heads and hands of statues and demolished others.