Full scale replicas of the ancient 15-metre Temple of Bel entrance in Syria are to be built in Trafalgar Square and Times Square.
Some believe that the structure is one of the few remaining parts of the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel in the Syrian city of Palmyra. It is apparently unknown if the Palmyra Arch was fully destroyed by ISIS over the past year.
The temple was situated in an important city for the ancient world, sitting on a trade route that linked Persia, India and China
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The Guardian reports:
The construction of the replicas will be the centrepiece of events for world heritage week, planned for April with a theme of replication and reconstruction. It has also been characterised as a gesture of defiance against religious extremists’ attempts to erase evidence of the Middle East’s pre-Islamic history.
Founded in AD32, the temple was consecrated to the Mesopotamian god Bel and formed the centre of religious life in Palmyra. In keeping with many ancient temples, it was converted into a Christian church during the Byzantine era, and then into a mosque when Islam arrived in the area.
Known as the Pearl of the Desert, Palmyra – which means city of Palms – lies 130 miles (210km) north-east of Damascus. Before the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, more than 150,000 tourists visited the city every year.
The Temple of Bel was considered among the best preserved ruins at Palmyra, until confirmation of the destruction in August. Isis also beheaded Khaled al-Asaad, the 82-year-old Syrian archaeologist who had looked after Palmyra’s ruins for four decades, and hung his body in public.
Building a copy of the temple entrance has been proposed by the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), a joint venture between Harvard University, the University of Oxford and Dubai’s Museum of the Future that promotes the use of digital imaging and 3D printing in archaeology and conservation.
In collaboration with Unesco, the institute began distributing 3D cameras to volunteer photographers earlier this year to capture images of threatened objects in conflict zones throughout the Middle East and north Africa.