Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai unveiled the IDA's reconstruction of Palmyra's Triumphal Arch at the World Government Summit on Sunday, February 12th in Dubai. On hand to assist with the unveiling were UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and IMF President Christine Lagarde, as well as a host of other dignitaries. Below, Roger Michael, the IDA's founder and Executive Director, explains the technical processes underlying the reconstruction of the arch.
The IDA's principal partner is the Dubai Future Foundation. An incubator for innovation, the DFF is the perfect collaborator for a technology-led organization like the IDA. We are honored to display the arch in Dubai at the 2017 iteration of the World Government Summit. Sited at the entrance to the Summit, where it will be seen by all who attend, the Triumphal Arch will integrate perfectly with its physical surroundings as well as the spirit of the occasion, embodying as it does both tradition and high technology.
The residents of Dubai, and the visionary leaders who conceived of the city, know better than anyone the importance of place and the national pride that can reside in architecture. The Triumphal Arch, symbolizing the prosperity, technical prowess and cultural richness of the ancient trading hub of Palmyra, will be right at home in Dubai, a city that reflects all of those same virtues.
"By using digital techniques to map and preserve monuments and other aspects of shared human history, we are able to ensure that nobody can deny history or dictate that their narrative or ideology stands above the shared story of all humanity and our shared aspiration to live together in harmony.
There is actually a message within the Million Image Database initiative for those who think you can wipe out our human heritage with acts of destruction. What you destroy, we can create again. Our desire to live together, to work together for our humanity is a positive force that can rebuild everything you break. Ultimately, we are stronger because we build.
The Million Image Database is a remarkable collective effort in which everyone has the opportunity to participate. It is that participation and collaborative aspect to the project that makes it such a powerful symbol for our shared desire to come together and celebrate human achievements, preserving them and sharing them around the world.
This partnership between the Dubai Future Foundation and The Institute for Digital Archaeology is extending the boundaries of what we can achieve using the remarkable potential of 3D printing and carving. It is also an important example of how we can work together to make a positive contribution to preserving and sharing monuments and artifacts that represent our collective past and cement our future.
There has been a great deal of conflict in our region and many monuments and artifacts representing the achievements of golden eras in our past have been lost as a consequence. Many have been intentionally destroyed in an effort to erase the memory of a time when people of all faiths and origins worked together to create a golden age of scientific, cultural and social achievements. This collaboration between the Dubai Future Foundation and The Institute for Digital Archaeology means that we can literally roll back the clock and restore what the nihilists have damaged. It is a message to them: everything they are working to erase can be preserved. Their destruction is as futile as their ideology.
We are delighted to be able to bring together so many people from around the world to collaborate on this important project of historical restoration and preservation. As a result, some of the ancient world's most remarkable achievements can not only be kept for future generations to enjoy, but thanks to innovative 3D technologies, can be rebuilt anywhere in the world for all of humanity to enjoy."
His Excellency Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi
Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future, Dubai UAE
Managing Director of Dubai Future Foundation
"The replica arch was built as part of a project by the Institute for Digital Archaeology, a joint initiative that works with Oxford, Harvard and the Museum of the Future in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, to draw attention to the destruction of cultural artifacts across the world, and to rebuild some pieces."
"However, the abilities we have also pose challenging questions. Which has a greater authenticity; an arch recreated in precise and perfect detail by a robotic arm, or an arch reconstructed using the same artisanal techniques as the original? I am certain that this debate will shape the museums of our future."