Cultural heritage recreated thanks to 3D archaeology technology
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.
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.”
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