BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

3D Archaeology: Destroyed Monuments Resurrected

Cultural heritage recreated thanks to 3D archaeology technology

nimrud

3D archaeology in action: Destroyed in 2015, the 16-foot-tall bull from Nimrud was recreated in individual blocks that were machine-carved in styrofoam, assembled and finished manually. Photo: Nicola Salvioli and Antonio Quattrone.

Cultural heritage around the globe is constantly under threat and needs to be protected—not only as a constituent of peoples’ historical memory and identity, but also as the source of future dialogue and understanding between peoples and cultures. While it is inevitable that what comes down to us from the material relics of the distant past is a mere shadow of what human talent has created, the new global phenomenon of the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage can and should be prevented. Especially disturbing are images of material destruction related to immense human suffering in the Middle East, where scores of people are being killed or displaced every day and cultural heritage is being wiped out forever.

A UNESCO-supported exhibition that is currently on display at the Roman Colosseum resurrects some of the recently demolished monuments and raises awareness about the continuing destruction. Curated by archaeologist Paolo Matthiae and Francesco Rutelli, former culture minister of Italy and mayor of Rome, the exhibit, titled Rinascere dalle distruzioni (“Rising from the Ashes”), features full-scale recreations of three prominent monuments of the ancient Near East. It presents the 24th-century B.C.E. Great Archive Room from Ebla (in modern Syria) with a trove of cuneiform tablets, a ninth-century B.C.E. colossal sculpture of a human-headed, winged bull deity from the North-West Palace in the Assyrian capital city of Nimrud (Iraq) and the richly carved ceiling from the first-century C.E. Temple of Bel in Palmyra (Syria).


From Babylon to Baghdad: Ancient Iraq and the Modern West examines the relationship between ancient Iraq and the origins of modern Western society. This free eBook details some of the ways in which ancient Near Eastern civilizations have impressed themselves on Western culture and chronicles the present-day fight to preserve Iraq’s cultural heritage.


These 3D full-scale reproductions were possible thanks only to the combination of prior documentation and modern technology: Precise archaeological data served as a basis for digital models of the monuments, which were then materialized into styrofoam by computer-controlled sculpting machines or reproduced on 3D printers. To convey authentic colors and volume of the artworks, the Nimrud bull was subsequently coated with a mix of pulverized minerals and resins, while the Ebla archive room was converted to a fiberglass copy.

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The recreated bull before assembly: Commissioned by the Assyrian king Assurnasirpal II to guard his palace on the Tigris river from hostile forces, the original statue survived the Babylonian conquest of Nimrud in 614 B.C.E., but was destroyed by modern iconoclasts in 2015. Photo: Nicola Salvioli and Antonio Quattrone.

In addition to the three large reproductions, two actual marble busts—retrieved from the vandalized museum in Palmyra—are on display before they will undergo restoration in Italy.

The Roman exhibit, which closes December 11, 2016, simultaneously brings to the fore the ongoing destruction of cultural treasures and demonstrates the capabilities of modern technology to faithfully recreate humanity’s heritage.


BAS Library members: Check out the Special Collection “Celebrating Nimrud.”

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

10 Things to Know About the Assyrian Empire

Virtual Reality in Archaeology

ISIS Destroys Antiquities in Mosul, Iraq

Archaeological Looting and the Destruction of Cultural Heritage

Sold to the Highest Bidder: Antiquities as Cash Cows


 

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5 Responses

  1. karenp52 says:

    Things and time may be out of our controll. Thank God that we have the technology to recreate. So that other will have chance to see our past. As presus we may think the ralicks are from the past. Peoples lives are even more important. We in the west should not sit back and do nothing for in the future history will judge us, as we judge the enemy’s of Israel today and of yesterday years.

  2. D says:

    Amen to that. Note that centuries of Islamic rulers didn’t bother to destroy them. It’s a conscious attempt to erase history.

  3. John Savage says:

    Iconoclasm in any form is disturbing to me, regardless of the religious tradition from which the particular form springs (I speak as an Evangelical Christian). History should be studied and accepted and learned from, NEVER brushed over and destroyed. I am grateful for the work of these talented individuals who are working to restore and preserve the cherished history of this very important region of the world!

  4. Helen says:

    Is there a reason not to call the iconoclasts for what they are? It’s Daesh, the Islamic State, which has no room for life before itself and destroys everything in its wake.

  5. James Oppenheimer says:

    Groups like isis need to be stopped from having any power in the world. They are nothing but genocidal thugs.
    Unfortunately, so long as there are millions of people who are desperately poor with not the slightest chance of ever having a decent life, murderers such as isis will continue to gain recruits. To stop this holocaust, we must find a way to break this cycle of perpetual starvation-level existence.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


5 Responses

  1. karenp52 says:

    Things and time may be out of our controll. Thank God that we have the technology to recreate. So that other will have chance to see our past. As presus we may think the ralicks are from the past. Peoples lives are even more important. We in the west should not sit back and do nothing for in the future history will judge us, as we judge the enemy’s of Israel today and of yesterday years.

  2. D says:

    Amen to that. Note that centuries of Islamic rulers didn’t bother to destroy them. It’s a conscious attempt to erase history.

  3. John Savage says:

    Iconoclasm in any form is disturbing to me, regardless of the religious tradition from which the particular form springs (I speak as an Evangelical Christian). History should be studied and accepted and learned from, NEVER brushed over and destroyed. I am grateful for the work of these talented individuals who are working to restore and preserve the cherished history of this very important region of the world!

  4. Helen says:

    Is there a reason not to call the iconoclasts for what they are? It’s Daesh, the Islamic State, which has no room for life before itself and destroys everything in its wake.

  5. James Oppenheimer says:

    Groups like isis need to be stopped from having any power in the world. They are nothing but genocidal thugs.
    Unfortunately, so long as there are millions of people who are desperately poor with not the slightest chance of ever having a decent life, murderers such as isis will continue to gain recruits. To stop this holocaust, we must find a way to break this cycle of perpetual starvation-level existence.

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