In 2015, the University of Oxford, Harvard University, and Dubai's Museum of the Future came together to form the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) and begin an inspirational project to preserve history and cultural heritage in the Middle East, passing out 3D cameras to citizens in ISIS war zones so they could document at-risk ancient artifacts and buildings before they were destroyed during the fighting or by vandals. Now, a 3D printed replica of one of these buildings has received a prestigious award.
The Million Image Database Project, under the partnership of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the IDA, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was too late to capture images of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria before it was obliterated by ISIS – only the entrance archway was left. But, together with the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) and using two-dimensional images to make 3D renderings of the temple, the IDA 3D printed and assembled a replica of the historic arch, which was unveiled in London's Trafalgar Square last year.The replica of the Arch of Triumph went on a worldwide tour, ending up next in the City Hall Plaza in New York City and the World Government Summit in Dubai, with a fourth stop in Italy during this summer’s G7 Summit.
At the 2016 installation of the 3D printed arch replica in London, Syria's Director of Antiquities Maamoun Abdulkarim 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.”
The 11-ton, 20-foot-tall replica is about two-thirds the size of the original monument, made with original images, 3D technology, and Egyptian marble. According to His Excellency Abdullah bin Touq, DFF's Acting CEO, the decision to unveil the Arch replica at the G7 Summit highlighted the UAE's and the DFF's role in helping to preserve the world's ancient heritage.
It’s now been announced that the 3D printed replica, intended to immortalize the fallen gateway to the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, has won a prestigious University of Oxford award, known as the Public Engagement with Research Award, sponsored by the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson.
“The Award has had an impressive turnout this year, we have received a great deal of groundbreaking scientific research and innovative projects,” said Professor Richardson. “This reflects our commitment to encouraging the scientific community to get involved with the award, and to draw participants from all segments of society and across all sectors.”
The international award promotes community participation and scientific research, and includes the Projects, Building Capacity and Early Career Researcher categories.
14 winning entries were awarded for building capacity in the area of “high-quality engagement activities.” Entrants for this award can be from any career level, and the judges consider activities on any level, including safeguarding ancient history.
“We are proud that the 3D-printed replica of the Palmyra Arch of Triumph was chosen among the entries at the Oxford University Vice Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Award. The prize is an international symbol of academic excellence, and we consider this an honour and a form of appreciation for the hard work of our dedicated team of skilled experts. It doubles down on our stated values and intentions to preserve the historical heritage of peoples, and ensure it is passed down through the generations,” said Roger L. Michel Jr, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Digital Archaeology. “We are very pleased to be sharing this award with Abdullah bin Touq and the Dubai Future Foundation, and we commend their ample support for us during this remarkable project.”
The Early Career Researcher Award was presented to Dr. Alexy Karenowska, a magnetician with a research group based in Oxford's Department of Physics and Director of Technology at The Institute for Digital Archaeology. Karenowska led the team in creating the replica, “using a combination of photogrammetry-based 3D computer modelling and state-of-the-art 3D machining in stone,” as she described it. She also managed the installations in London, New York, Dubai, and Florence.
“This initiative is a direct implementation of the UAE leadership’s forward-thinking vision, which calls for utilising the technologies of the future to preserve our region’s ancient heritage. Receiving Oxford University’s Public Engagement with Research Award demonstrates the global r