About a year ago, members of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh) participated in the destruction of the ruins at Palmyra in Syria. Among the sites destroyed was the Tower of Elahbel, the Monumental Arch, and the Temple of Bel. I understand that no sane person would be sightseeing around Syria at the moment, but the ruins destroyed were some of the great architectural specimens, as well as some of the greatest cultural landmarks, in the world, and all people should have been able to see them. Luckily, for people in Rome, a special organization has made the impossible possible through 3D printing.
The Incontro di Civiltà (Meetings of Civilizations) organization has generously sponsored a one-of-a-kind exhibition at the Colosseum in Rome. The exhibition, entitled “Rising From Destruction: Ebla, Nimrud, Palmyra”, shows some recreations of only a few of the prominent art pieces that were destroyed last October, not only at Palmyra, but at other archeological sites in Iraq and Syria. Among them were the famous Bull of Nimrud, which depicts the ancient Assyrian god of protection called the lamassu, with the body of a bull, the wings of a bird, and the head of a man.
On top of the recreations, Syrian archaeologists have arranged for two genuine statues from Palmyra to be on display. The two statues, busts from the Roman period, had their faces destroyed during the occupation by terrorists last year. Francesco Rutelli, the former mayor of Rome and the head of Incontro di Civiltà, said about the defaced busts, “We have baptized them the war-wounded of Palmyra.” After the exhibition closes, the busts will be restored.
Rome is not the first city to host such an exhibition. In New York’s City Hall Park, a replica of the Palmyra Arch of Triumph was constructed and erected.