Wednesday 18 May 2022 - 4:26:18 pm

Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation: Palmyra Temple Arch Restored in Trafalgar Square

DUBAI, 19th April, 2016 (WAM) - The Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation together with the Institute for Digital Archaeology, UNESCO and the universities of Harvard and Oxford today unveiled a life-sized, 3D printed restoration of the archway to the temple in Palmyra, destroyed by Daesh in 2015. The restoration stands in London’s Trafalgar square and will move to be exhibited in New York and Dubai. The unveiling in front of the UK’s National Gallery was attended by Executive Director of the Museum of the Future, Saif Al Aleeli as well as the Mayor of London, members of the British Parliament and other stakeholders and specialists in the field of archaeology and research.

The initiative supporting the creation of the restored arch is a strategic partnership between the Dubai Museum of the Future, UNESCO, the Institute for Digital Archaeology and the universities of Harvard and Oxford. The Palmyra Arch was restored using advanced digital imaging and 3D printing techniques as part of an effort to document and preserve key historical artefacts at risk from conflict.

The restoration uses a technology known as Polynomial Texture Mapping, which creates a 3D model of objects, literally shedding new light on ancient artefacts. The advanced imaging technique will be used to preserve at-risk monuments in conflict areas throughout the Middle East and North Africa through the collation of the ‘Million Image Database’, an initiative backed by Dubai’s Museum of the Future Foundation. The database comprises 3D images taken by volunteers using thousands of special cameras distributed by the IDA. The images can then be uploaded for research and study by archaeologists and historians globally.

Mr Al Aleeli commented: "This global partnership confirms the focus by the UAE’s leadership in using advanced technology and tools to support the study and preservation of the legacy of human civilization, which represents our common human heritage. The Million Image Database means we can not only record, preserve and study objects of great heritage against loss and damage, but also share facsimiles of them to exhibit to people around the world who would not otherwise get the chance to see these artefacts of our shared history."

The exciting applications of the Million Image Database include the ability to study artefacts to uncover hidden inscriptions, subtle differences in texture and other elements, which would not otherwise be explored using traditional archeological approaches.

"Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this technology is that we can not only preserve objects and examine them in a highly granular way, but we can print them using 3D printers and proprietary cement, sandstone and marble materials and machining. Our mission is to rebuild the landscape of the Middle East and the great symbols of our shared cultural heritage that have been destroyed," said the IDA’s Executive Director, Roger Michel.

The unveiling also saw the announcement of the world’s first accredited Digital Archaeology Academic Program by the IDA in partnership with Dubai’s Museum of the Future Foundation, the Institute for Digital Archaeology and the Universities of Oxford and Harvard.

"In using digital techniques to map and preserve aspects of our shared human history, we are able to ensure that nobody can deny history or dictate that their narrative or ideology stands above the shared story of all humanity and our shared aspiration to live together in harmony," said Mr Al Aleeli.