The Institute for Digital Archaeology
Screenshot, Sunday December 4th 2016
In the overarching ethos of the IDA, the notions of authenticity and millimetric accuracy – so precious for classical archaeology - have been prevailed by reversible interventions, whose possible imperfections do not interfere with the message they aim to carry on. The IDA’s ad hoc reproductions do not modify the landscape permanently or aggressively, but instead, attempt to re-establish a lost tangible memory, one that can be reshaped and adapted along the years and avoids dictating a certain historical narrative.
Present, Past and the In Between
Screenshot, Sunday 4th December 2016
The general agenda when considering the rejuvenation of a war torn area is how to rebuild its infrastructure, how to ignite a stream of funds back into its school systems and hospitals - for obvious reasons indeed. But another perhaps seemingly less urgent measure is to rebuild, restore or even rethink the rubble of its important sites of cultural heritage. Attacking structures of community and national value is a strategy used by fighters for decades, marching head first towards collective places of value, meaning and where their destruction is a method to ensure a lasting air of war long after it has ceased. It is with this precise timely affect that the Institute for Digital Archaeology approach the communities they aid to heal.
Video: [W] wie Wissen
Saturday 26th November 2016
The Victoria & Albert Museum grapples with art, architecture, and authenticity at the Venice Biennale
AN Review, Friday 23rd September 2016
A World of Fragile Parts doesn’t just cover this passage of history: Cormier has sampled modern reproductions too. Part of the remade Palmyra arch can be found in the exhibition. The arch was fabricated with precise stone-cutting tools and information from a 3D model built using photographs of the original. In this example, and indeed many others, a sense of urgency is installed throughout the exhibition. “Despite best efforts to preserve originals, there will always be a level of uncertainty—the potential damage of violent attacks, environmental disasters, and accidents—that put our material culture at risk,” said Cormier. “Compiling a vast database of digital backups, which then can be reconstituted physically, offers an immense opportunity.”
ISIL-Destroyed Building Resurrected With 3D Printing
Urban Developer, Tuesday 11th October 2016
Specifically, in conjunction with UNESCO, engineering specialists at Oxford University and Harvard University, the IDA captures millions of 3D images of threatened objects throughout the world through volunteers armed with 3D cameras, specifically within conflict zones, captured by ordinary people living in these zones who are passionate about preserving structures and architecture.
Replica of lost ancient ruin to grace New York
Timeout, Tuesday 16th August 2016
Move over Temple of Dendur: You'll soon have competition for status of most selfie-ready, ancient ruin in New York. On September 19th, the Institute for Digital Archaeology will be bringing a full-scale replica of Arch of Palmyra to Gotham at a yet-to-be announced location. The original version of this fine example of Roman-era monumental architecture was wantonly destroyed last year by ISIS in the Syrian city from which it got its name.
3D Imaging Is Helping Us Save History for the Future
Futurism, Monday 8th August 2016
In a recent interview, Alexy Karenowska, who is the Director of Technology at The Institute for Digital Archaeology and a research fellow at Magdalen College, noted the increasing violence that is perpetrated against sites that are of important historical and cultural significance. “There is an increasing awareness in the archaeological and cultural heritage community of the dangers of various programs of systematic cultural cleansing, which we are seeing executed by various malicious and terrorist organizations across the world,” Karenowska asserts.
And in an attempt to preserve these artifacts, Karenowska and her team are turning to a rather unlikely savior: 3D imaging.
The Technology That Will Resurrect ISIS-Destroyed Antiquities
PBS Nova Next, Thursday 9th June 2016
In fact, satellite photography is revealing a shocking picture of the ongoing, systematic destruction of churches, mosques, antiquities, and museums throughout Syria and parts of Iraq and threats to heritage sites elsewhere in the Middle East. But that hasn’t stopped courageous local archaeologists and citizens from risking their lives to combat the devastation, aided by specialists outside the war zone who are deploying satellite and 3D imaging to help monitor, record, and replicate ancient sites.
The Printer Masters
Centurion Magazine, June 2016
Simultaneously great disruptor and gimmicky hobbyist toy, 3D-printing is an indisputable creative outlet. We look at projects both grounded and flighty, that make use of the technology.
Palmyra Arch lives again (again)
Ribaj, Thursday May 26th 2016
At the heart of the World of Fragile Parts exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale sits a doppelganger once removed. It is a chunk of yellow, Egyptian marble; the top of an arch that has been carved with floral motifs. It is an echo of an echo, a copy of a copy of the destroyed victory arch from Palmyra. The original arch was constructed around two centuries after the death of Christ in modern-day Syria partially to commemorate the might of the Roman Empire but also as an integral part of an architectural set-piece which reconciled a kink in the main colonnade as it ran in the direction of the Temple of Bel.
Erasing Isis: how 3D technology now lets us copy and rebuild entire cities
Boris Johnson called it giving “two fingers to Daesh”, but this remarkable new capability – to rebuild exact copies of urban structures – goes much further. From Palmyra to the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, new technologies in digital copying and 3D building are allowing us to bring back not just monuments, but entire cities from the rubble.
Fake it till you remake it: the lost masterpieces that are returning — digitally
The Times, Friday May 27th 2016
That advances in 3D photography and scanning, digital modeling and 3D fabrication techniques might bring back one of the world’s greatest historic monuments does much to illustrate what these technologies can do partially to alleviate the material devastation caused by terrorist action.
Now A World of Fragile Parts, a new exhibition organised by the V&A, suggests still more possibilities.
A Look Back at the Future: This Week in Tech — April 23, 2016
Voice of America, Saturday April 23rd 2016
The 11-ton arch was re-created by students at the Institute of Digital Archaeology. The team used photographs to map the arch in exquisite detail on a smaller scale and then rebuilt it life size using a 3-D printer.
The printer didn't reprint a pristine version of the arch; the model includes all the chips and age lines of the arch as it existed in 2015, making the model an exact replica of the one that was destroyed — flawed by nature and time, but not people.
Reconstruction of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph to Travel the World
Architectural Record, Friday April 22nd 2016
"Blowing things up is a kind of censorship. It's like burning books - it's detracting from the marketplace of ideas," says Roger L. Mchel, founder of the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), an organization that leverages technology to document and recreate cultural artifacts. "No one person, no one group should make the decision for another what their history is going to be," he says.
Palmyra Arch Replica is Unveiled in Trafalgar Square in London
The New York Times, Tuesday April 19th 2016
LONDON — A landmark Roman arch that was destroyed by Islamic State fighters in Palmyra, Syria, stood proudly once again on Tuesday, this time as a replica built from digital models that was installed in Trafalgar Square in London.
Palmyra's ancient Triumphal Arch resurrected in London's Trafalgar Square (Video)
CNN, Tuesday April 19th 2016
The scale model of Palmyra's Triumphal Arch, which was destroyed in an act captured on an ISIS video, has been reconstructed using 3-D printing technology and photographs of the original. The new structure was built in Italy using Egyptian marble before being shipped to London.
It was constructed by experts from Oxford's Institute of Digital Archeology (IDA) as an act of solidarity with Syria to raise awareness of the fight to safeguard its ancient treasures.
Palmyra's Triumphal Arch Recreated in Trafalgar Square
CBC News, Tuesday April 19th 2016
The original 1,800-year-old arch was destroyed by ISIS in October, during their ten-month siege of Palmyra which ended in March.
More yellow in hue than the original, the reconstruction is made from Egyptian marble and cost £100,000 to make. It was created using the Institute of Digital Technology's Million Images Database, a collection of 3D photographs submitted by volunteers to provide a blueprint for the replica arch.
Ghost of Palmyra's Arch Rises in trafalgar Square
Financial Times, Tuesday April 16th 2016
Replica of Palmyra Arch Unveiled in London
Newsweek, Tuesday April 19th 2016
Created by the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA) using 3D technology, the model was based on photographs of the original arch’s positioning in Palmyra, northeast of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Syria's director-general of antiquities and museums , Maamoun Abdulkarim said it was an "action of solidarity," BBC News reports.
Following its display in Trafalgar Square for three days, the model be transported to other big cities around the world, including New York’s Time Square in September. Next year, it will be unveiled in Palmyra where it will permanently remain.
Replica heads for Palmyra after Trafalgar Square
The Times, March 30th 2016
A replica of Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old Arch of Triumph will be sent to Syria after being displayed in Trafalgar Square next month.
Experts from Oxford and Harvard universities and the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) are building the copy using 3D images produced from photographs of the monument, which Islamic State blew up in October.
Why Should we Stand by and Watch our Heritage Crumble?
The Guardian, Wednesday 13th April 2016
Monuments, as embodiments of history, religion, art and science, are significant and complex repositories of cultural narratives. No one should consider for one second giving terrorists the power to delete such objects from our collective cultural record. When history is erased in this fashion, it must be promptly (and, of course, thoughtfully) restored. Such reconstructions, at least in the context of terrorist acts, vindicate an infinitely more important value than any misguided obsession with the romance of ruins.
Why the Arch of Triumph of Palmyra is Being Recreated in London - 1,800 years after it was built
The Telegraph, Friday 8th April 2016
We watch mesmerised as the robotic arm beavers away, the drill bit on the end painstakingly incising the precise lineaments of a 1,800-year-old monument that was blown up last October.
The monument in question is the Arch of Triumph of Palmyra, destroyed by Isil forces as they spread across Syria in the summer of 2015.
For the past two months, in a mountain workshop right next to where Michelangelo quarried a block of finest-quality white marble for his David, a new arch has been rising, and the week after next, in a culminating flight of fancy, it will touch down in Trafalgar Square.
'Disneyland' and the Restoration of Palmyra
The Times, Thursday 7th April 2016
Sir, I agree wholeheartedly that any plan for the reconstruction of Palmyra must be thoughtfully conceived and carefully executed (“Plea not to create a Disneyland of relics”, Apr 6). At the same time, I am mindful of how, in the Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan, initial delay translated into decades of dispute and inaction. Right now, we are in a golden bubble of international solidarity around support for reversing the terrorists’ efforts to rewrite history in Palmyra.
Hope for Palmyra's Future
The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday 5th April 2016
The Institute for Digital Archaeology hopes 3-D models of Palmyra’s sites will result in their detailed reconstruction led by Syrians. The Unesco partner uses photos from its Million Image Database at Harvard University to provide a 360-degree view of the object and create a computer model, said technology director Alexy Karenowska. Stone can also be carved using the 3-D model, as in the replica of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph the organization will display in London’s Trafalgar Square this month; an installation is also planned for New York’s Times Square this fall.
Weekend Edition Saturday
NPR, Saturday 2nd April 2016
Upon reclaiming Palmyra, the controversial side of digital reconstruction
Listen here: http://www.npr.org
Palmyra Triumphal Arch Comes to Life in 3D Printed Display
Voice of America, Friday 1st April 2016
“As soon as our teams are given access to the Palmyra site, our first step will be to consult with local stakeholders to learn of their priorities,” Roger Michel, IDA’s founder and Executive Director, said in an email.
The team will then build a large-scale 3-D printing grid near the site of the reconstruction.
“This will dramatically reduce cost and allow local stakeholders to participate in the building process,” he said. “After rough-printing the reconstruction, the next step is to provide surface finishes that match the appearance and texture of the original objects or architecture.”
Replica Heads for Palmyra after Trafalgar Square
The Times, Wednesday 30th March 2016
A replica of Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old Arch of Triumph will be sent to Syria after being displayed in Trafalgar Square next month.
Experts from Oxford and Harvard universities and the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) are building the copy using 3D images produced from photographs of the monument, which Islamic State blew up in October.
If All Else Fails, 3D Models and Robots Might Rebuild Sites
The New York Times, Monday 28th March 2016
“Every time we resurrect from the rubble one of these monuments, it undercuts the message of fear and ignorance that these people are trying to spread,” he said. “If they knock it down, we will rebuild it. If they knock it down again, we will rebuild it again.”
The Romans built the original triumphal arch in the second century to celebrate a victory over the Persians.
The reproduction was created from a 3D computer model generated from dozens of photographs of the arch taken by archaeologists, tourists and other visitors to Palmyra before the Islamic State captured the city.
British Archaeologists should Rebuild Palmyra, says Boris Johnson
The Guardian, Sunday 27th March 2016
Britain should send top archaeologists to help restore the ancient city of Palmyra after Vladimir Putin’s drive to liberate it from Islamic State exposed the west’s “ineffective” response to the Syria crisis, Boris Johnson has said.
The London mayor said the Russian president deserved credit for showing “ruthless clarity” in providing Bashar al-Assad’s regime with military backing, reportedly including troops on the ground.
Life Among the Ruins
The New York Times, Saturday 19th March 2016
NEXT month, the Temple of Baal will come to Times Square. Reproductions of the 50-foot arch that formed the temple’s entrance are to be installed in New York and in London, a tribute to the 2,000-year-old structure that the Islamic Statedestroyed last year in the Syrian town of Palmyra. The group’s rampage through Palmyra, a city that reached its peak in the second and third century A.D., enraged the world, spurring scholars and conservationists into action. Numerous nongovernmental organizations are now cataloging and mapping damaged cultural heritage sites in the region.
Technology can Defeat the Wreckers of Isis
The Times, Friday March 18th 2016
What the vandals did not realise was that those images, and others contributed by individuals around the world, would be used to carry out the digital reconstruction of these priceless artefacts. In the act of obliteration lay the seeds of renewal, thanks to a combination of new technology, crowdsourcing and hundreds of ordinary photographs.
Syria's Shattered Relics are Rebuilt
The Times, Wednesday 16th March 2016
Archaeologists have completed the first 3D reconstructions of some of Syria’s greatest relics after an unprecedented international effort led by Oxford and Harvard universities to preserve the country’s threatened heritage.
Sites including the great Crusader castle at Krak des Chevaliers and the Umayyad mosque in Damascus — the fourth holiest place in Islam — have been mapped using 3D digital cameras to build complete computer models of the buildings. The first images were put online yesterday.
3D Images of Syria Archaeological Treasures go Online
Phys.org, Monday 14th March 2016
The Million Images Database hopes be fully online by the end of the year and will display life-size replicas of Palmyra's destroyed triumphal arch in New York's Times Square and London's Trafalgar Square in April.
The replicas of the arch, blown up by IS jihadists in October, are being made with the world's largest 3D printer.
France's culture minister had earlier floated the idea of a 3D recreation of the ancient city, known as the "Pearl of the Desert", based on photos taken by tourists over the years.
The Heroic Effort to Digitally Reconstruct Lost Monuments
Smithsonian Magazine, March 2016
They’re among a growing number of digitally savvy academics, artists and preservationists worldwide who are turning to computer imaging in response to the terrorists’ campaign to obliterate history. One Iranian-born artist, Morehshin Allahyari, who now lives in San Francisco, has 3-D-printed miniature, translucent versions of destroyed artworks from the ancient cities of Nineveh and Hatra, and has embedded a flash drive containing images, video and text about the work in each replica. Her work was most recently displayed at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery in Manhattan, in an exhibition called “The Missing: Rebuilding the Past,” featuring eight artists’ responses to acts of historical destruction. Next month, the Institute for Digital Archaeology, a project from Harvard, Oxford and the Museum of the Future in Dubai, plans to fabricate full-scale copies of the arch at Palmyra’s Temple of Bel and place the 3-D-printed structures in Trafalgar Square and Times Square during Unesco’s Heritage Week.
Trafalgar Square will soon be home to a replica of an ancient Syrian arch
Timeout London, Tuesday 5th January 2016
In May, Islamic State militants captured the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, ransacking the area and demolishing sites they described as symbols of 'idolatry'. All the group left behind was a 2,000-year-old arch from the Temple of Bel.
Now, the arch is being recreated using 3D printing as part of a project to emphasise the importance of preserving cultural sites in war-torn countries. The copy of the monument will stand in Trafalgar Square during World Heritage Week in April. It will be joined by an identical arch in New York's Times Square.
The replica arches are the work the Institute of Digital Archaeology – a collaborative project from Harvard and Oxford Universities as well as Dubai's Museum of the Future. Alexy Karenowska from the Institute explains: 'People say, "should we be worrying about this stuff when human lives are being lost?" Of course all of this stuff takes second place to human life, but these cultural objects are very important to give a sense of place and community.'
Greece vs. Rome with Boris Johnson and Mary Beard
Intelligence2, Thursday 19th November 2015
Newsweek: The New Monument Men
Newsweek, Wednesday 11th November 2015
How 3D printers can help undo the destruction of ISIS
Washington Post, 7th January 2016
The plan to install 3D-printed replicas of the arch in New York and London is all part of a broader initiative by the Institute for Digital Archaeology and UNESCO known as the Million Image Database to preserve and restore some of the world’s most important landmarks. When it’s complete, the Million Image Database will hold exactly that – 1 million images of important architectural landmarks and structures throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
The struggle to save the Middle East's cultural heritage
Nature, Friday 8th January 2016
Researchers are more optimistic, however, about their ability to reduce damage caused by the more commonplace looting and illegal or poorly planned construction. Multiple analyses of satellite images that document archaeological sites over time suggest that more sites are destroyed by looting and construction than by the attacks that have become a regular feature of ISIS propaganda videos. And it is not just sites in Syria and Iraq that are vulnerable: looting of archaeological treasures is widespread in countries such as Yemen, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
Replicas of a Temple Nearly Destroyed by ISIS are Coming to New York and London
Smithsonian Magazine, Wednesday 30th December 2015
Soon both Times Square and Trafalgar Square will feature replicas of the 50-foot-tall archway marking the entrance to Palmyra’s Temple of Bel. The structure was built around 2,000 years ago as a temple to a Mesopotamian god but was used as a Christian church and an Islamic mosque, Brian Boucher writes for artnet News. While satellite images taken in September revealed that the militants had destroyed most of the ancient temple, recent reports suggest that other parts of the site, including the archway, sustained damage but still somehow managed to remain mostly intact.
“[The reconstruction] is really a political statement, a call to action, to draw attention to what is happening in Syria and Iraq and now Libya,” Roger Michel, executive director of the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) tells Gayle. “We are saying to them ‘if you destroy something we can rebuild it again’”
Palmyra arch that survived Isis to be replicated in London and New York
The Guardian, Tuesday 29th December 2015
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.
Replica of Syrian arch of Palmyra that survived Isis attack to be erected in Trafalgar Square and New York
The Independent, Tuesday 29th December 2015
"The aim of our proposed installaton is to draw attention to the global crisis surrounding the looting and despoliation of cultural heritage objects and architecture and the importance of celebrating the beauty and significance of these objects to the everyday lives of modern people" Dr. Alexy Karenowska, Director of Technology at the Institute for Digital Archaeology, told The Independent.
Palmyra arch from Syrian heritage site to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square
BBC News, Tuesday 29th December 2015
Alexy Karenowska, from the Institute of Digital Archaeology, which is behind the project, said she hoped it would help people understand how important it was to preserve cultural sites in war-torn countries such as Syria.
She said: "People say, 'should we be worrying about this stuff when human lives are being lost?'
"Of course all of this stuff takes second place to human life, but these cultural objects are very important to give a sense of place and community."
The famous 15m (50ft) arch will also illustrate Britain and Syria's shared heritage, with the Greco-Roman architecture of Palmyra echoed by the neoclassical buildings of the National Gallery and Nelson's Column.
New York and London Replicate the Palmyra Monument that Survived Islamic State
Vice News, Tuesday 29th December 2015
In September, UNESCO, the United Nations' culture organization, released satellite images showing that IS used explosives to destroy the Temple of Bel, which dates back to 32 AD. Now the world heritage organization is working with the Institute for Digital Archaeology or IDA— a joint venture between Harvard and Oxford Universities and Dubai's Museum of the Future — to replicate the site's entry arch for display in London's Trafalgar Square and New York's Times Square.
The venture will use digital imaging and 3D printing to create off-site individual parts, which will then be assembled in the two popular tourist destinations.
Using Laser Scanners to Preserve Antiquities in ISIS' Crosshairs
The New York Times, Sunday 27th December 2015
Its director of technology, Alexy Karenowska, a physicist at Oxford University, said that the institute was supplying volunteers with 5,000 lightweight 3-D cameras — they are less precise but more discreet and easier to maintain than laser scanners — to document at-risk cultural sites throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In April, at Trafalgar Square in London, it will install a temporary full-scale replica of the Arch of the Temple of Baal in Palmyra based on its 3-D digital model. The arch’s current status is uncertain, although much of the temple appears to have been destroyed.
“Of course, a reproduction is only a reproduction, not the original object,” Dr. Karenowska said. “It can only ever be second best, but if we are in a situation where it is all that we have, I do think we should embrace the possibility of having that.”
Palmyra's Last Stand in Trafalgar Square
The Times, Monday 28th December 2015
The 15m-high structure, which stood at the temple’s entrance, was badly damaged in an explosion but has remained standing, for now. The full-size replica will be a symbol of defiance in the face of attempts to erase the Middle East’s pre-Islamic history.
The arch is being created in sections in Shanghai and will be shipped to Italy for finishing before being erected like a giant Lego set in the shadow of Nelson’s Column. Simultaneously there are plans for identical arches in Times Square, New York. The Palmyra arch is due to be on display during World Heritage Week in April.
The World This Weekend: Libya's New Monuments Men
BBC Radio 4, Sunday 20th December 2015
Hear the whole piece here
Digital Innovation of the Year: Apollo Awards 2015
Apollo Magazine, Monday 23rd November 2015
The world has lost some irreplaceable cultural treasures this year, most distressingly at the hands of militants in Syria and Iraq. While international organisations struggle to protect the region’s surviving heritage, the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) and its partners have opened up another front – digital preservation and, in some cases, reconstruction.
The Million Image Database is a collaborative international project that aims to compile as complete a photographic record as possible of endangered sites and artefacts in the Middle East. Thousands of specially adapted cameras are being shipped from the IDA’s Oxford base to regional volunteers, whose photographs are uploaded to an online database. This material will be processed to produce virtual, navigable 3D-renderings of the original objects. From spring next year, the evolving digital catalogue will be released as an open-access hub.
Future Museum to Preserve Ancient Sites
Gulf News, Wednesday 28th October 2015
Dubai: The Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation will play a vital role in a joint global project to document ancient heritage monuments across the region by taking up to one million digital images of the sites using three-dimensional imaging technology.
The project will be carried out under the supervision of a group of archaeologists from Harvard University and the University of Oxford in cooperation with Unesco.
The foundation said it will build an electronic platform to manage the massive database of archaeological images. It will also distribute 5,000 three-dimensional cameras to partners and volunteers to photograph the heritage sites in the region. Images collected from volunteers and partners will be indexed and kept ready for the 3D printing phase of the project
Dubai’s Museum of the Future announced the partnership on Wednesday with Unesco and the UK-based Institute for Digital Archaeology (Ida).
Islamic State: how to save Syria’s antiquities
Prospect Magazine, Friday 11th September 2015
Archaeologist Roger Michel is sprinting.
He is in a race against the Islamic State (IS), to preserve as many relics as he can which lie in the militants’ onward march—even if this is only their shapes and memory, using digital 3D cameras.
Indiana Jones may have exchanged his bull-whip for high technology, but this time, his enemies are waging war on the past. As Mr Michel tells me just before an air hostess makes him put away his mobile: “if we don’t act now, it will all soon be gone forever.”
High-tech plan to save ancient sites from Isis
The Times, Friday 28th August 2015
A team of digital-age “monuments men” are to launch an unprecedented fightback against the destruction of ancient sites in the Middle East by Islamic State.
Archaeologists at Oxford and Harvard will flood the region with 3D cameras in a plan to create a full digital record of every threatened artefact.
“Palmyra is rapidly becoming the symbol of Isis’s cultural iconoclasm,” Roger Michel, the institute’s director, said. “If Isis is permitted to wipe the slate clean and rewrite the history of a region that defined global aesthetic and political sensibilities, we will collectively suffer a costly and irreversible defeat.
“But there is hope. By placing the record of our past in the digital realm, it will lie for ever beyond the reach of vandals and terrorists.”
Racing Agains the Militant Threat to Document Syria's Heritage
The New York Times, Thursday 24th September 2015
BEIRUT — Scientists are slipping 3-D cameras into Syria to local activists and residents to scan antiquities. A U.S.-funded project aims to provide local conservators with resources to help safeguard relics. Inside Syria, volunteers scramble to document damage to monuments and confirm what remains.
"I don't want to be having this conversation with somebody three years down the road, and they say, 'Gee why didn't you start in 2015 when they (IS) only controlled three percent of sites'," said Roger Michel, whose Million Image Database, an Oxford Institute of Digital Archaeology project, began distributing hundreds of 3-D cameras around the region to activists.
The Digital Race Against ISIS
BBC Today, Friday 28th August 2015
"All we can hope to do is create a permanent record" - Roger Michel
Hear the full interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p030ys68?p_f_added=urn%3Abbc%3Aradio%3Aprogramme%3Ap030ys68
Memories of Things Unseen
NYT Magazine, Wednesday 14th October 2015
The Institute for Digital Archaeology, a joint project of Harvard and Oxford Universities, uses sophisticated imaging techniques to aid conservation, epigraphy, archaeology and art history. One of the institute’s current efforts, the Million Image Database Project, involves photographing artifacts that are at risk of being destroyed for military or religious reasons, a bleak necessity in a world in which the beauty or importance of an object does not guarantee its safety. The goal of the project is to distribute up to 5,000 modified cameras, to professionals and to amateurs, and use them to capture a million 3-D images by the end of 2015. Already, more than a thousand cameras have been distributed, and the 3-D data from them are being received (though the directors of the project, to protect their associates on the ground, are leaving a lag of several months before they make the images publicly available). In the event of some of the objects being destroyed, the detailed visual record could be enough to facilitate a reconstruction. Photography is used to ward off total oblivion, the way that the photographs of Courbet’s ‘‘The Stone Breakers’’ and van Gogh’s ‘‘The Painter on the Road to Tarascon’’ accidentally made the lost paintings visible to future generations.
Alexy Karenowska on BBC South Today
BBC South Today, Friday 25th September 2015
Indiana Jones with a 3-D camera? Hi-tech fight to save antiquities from ISIS
CNN, Friday 28th August 2015
A new hi-tech front has opened in the battle to save priceless ancient monuments under threat from ISIS.
A team of archaeologists has come up with a cheap 3-D digital camera that can capture a record of buildings and artifacts -- and they are sending thousands into hot spots in the Middle East and beyond.
They are enlisting the help of locals who live near monuments to snap the images, which could allow them to build replicas if they were destroyed.
"People in Syria have exactly the same cultural history as we do in New York and Boston," says Roger Michel, executive director of The Institute for Digital Archaeology, a joint venture between Harvard and Oxford Universities, which has come up with the project, "and if that gets wiped out by the sands of the desert, that's going to be a significant thing."
As ISIS destroys ancient sites, experts race to digitally preserve others
SCPR, Friday 4th September 2015
Hear the full interview here: http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2015/09/04/44366/as-isis-destroys-ancient-sites-experts-race-to-dig/?slide=1
Can 3-d Imaging Save Ancient Art from ISIS?
NY Observer, Tuesday 1st September 2015
With few ways to combat ISIS’ direct targeting of cultural sites, without putting museum officials and antiquities experts in danger, (Syrian scholar Dr. Khaled al-Asaad was killed in Palmyra in August), Oxford’s Institute of Digital Archaeology is now pursuing a way to archive such places, using high-tech, 3-D cameras. The Institute, lead by Harvard University and The Classics Conclave, a private foundation, is researching digital imaging techniques for archaeology and conservation, with the goal of compiling one million 3-D images of at-risk cultural heritage sites and objects by the end of 2016 using modified 3-D cameras distributed to volunteers from NGOs, museums, government organizations across Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, and Yemen.
How England's Institute Of Digital Archeology Will Preserve The Art Isis Wants to Destroy
Forbes Magazine, Monday 31 August 2015
Lots of good can come of that–massive 3-D print-rcconstructions of destroyed iconic sculpture and architecture spring to mind, for which MIT has partnered with the Institute to do. But right now, or in a couple of months as the cameras are hardened for the battlefield and the actual work of the data-gathering gets underway, Dr. Michel and his colleagues will run a fraught race. Because, in the unforgiving vocabulary of war, the noble world-heritage preservation project requires people on the ground.
Dr. Michel’s race against time matters to everybody on the planet, and, the glad news is that it isn’t just restricted to Syria and Iraq–it’s region-wide, encompassing Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, and Yemen, most of which have their own arenas of conflict and thus pose their own dangers.
New Digital Archaeology Effort Attempts to Capture Cultural Heritage Before It's Gone
Hyperallergic, Friday 4th September 2015
As ISIS and other groups continue to destroy important heritage sites and ancient artifacts, archaeologists and other onlookers continue to scramble to find ways to counter the destruction. The latest effort comes from an organization called the Institute for Digital Archaeology, which will distribute some 10,000 3D cameras in West Asia over the next year, in the hopes of documenting archaeological sites and objects before they’re gone, the Daily Beast reports.
As Islamic State Destroys Antiquities, a rush to get 3-D images of what's left
The LA Times, Wednesday 2nd September 2015
The digital preservation project was conceived late last year and got off the ground about six weeks ago. Its price tag is about $2 million.
Support has been strong, the researchers said, and they expressed confidence that it could work.
"We've had so many people step forward and offer to help," Michel said, but he cautioned that time may be short. "We want to do something to document this legacy before it disappears."
Tecnología 3D para salvar el patrimonio amenazado por el IS
El Mundo, Saturday 29th August 2015
"Es nuestra manera de luchar contra el IS (Estado Islámico, por sus siglas en inglés) y reconocer que la Historia de Oriente Próximo es también la de Occidente. Si uno observa los edificios clásicos de las grandes capitales europeas se da cuenta de que no son muy diferentes a los templos de Palmira. Fueron su fuente de inspiración", explica a EL MUNDO Roger Michel, director del Instituto para la Arqueología Digital -participado por la Universidad estadounidense de Harvard- y adalid de esta singular iniciativa.
Modern-day Monuments Men take on Isis by 3D-mapping ancient sites militants are seeking to destroy
The Independent, Friday 28th August 2015
“It will include GPS data and dates,” Mr Michel said. “If someone is selling an object and says it was obtained in Syria in the 1930s we will know that was not the case because in 2015 it was at longitude X and latitude Y.”
Alexy Karenowska, a physicist at Magdalen College, Oxford, worked on the design of the cameras, which cost as little as £20.
“We want to do a sweep, as fast and as much as we can, using simple technology for images at multiple angles in a single shot,” she said.
The Million Image Database Project: BBC News World
BBC News World, Friday 28 August 2015
Erin Simmons speaks with BBC News World on the Million Image Database Project.
Archaeologists plan to use 3D imagery to preserve antiquities under threat from Islamic State
The Telegraph, Thursday 27th August 2015
Sophisticated "Monuments Men" initiative could see 20 million images compiled by 2017 to enable replicas to be constructed if artefacts lost.
“If Isil is permitted to wipe the slate clean and rewrite the history of a region that defined global aesthetic and political sensibilities, we will collectively suffer a costly and irreversible defeat,” said Roger Michel, the institute’s director.
Archaeologists' Weapon Against Isis: 5,000 Cameras
Fox News, Friday 4th September 2015
In recent months, the terrorist group has blown up a pair of 2,000-year-old temples in Syria and destroyed Iraq's ancient city of Nimrud. ISIS considers these antiquities idolatry, and destroying them is a major facet of its propaganda, notes Forbes.
To combat the loss of history, the institute—a venture between Harvard and Oxford—is spending $2 million to send at least 5,000 high-tech cameras to volunteers in the region to take millions of photos, the Telegraph reports.
Protecting History: The Digital Project Preserving Artifacts from ISIL Ruin
Sputnik International, Wednesday 2nd September 2015
"The attack on these artifacts is systematic. It is an attempt to simply wipe out an aspect of not just western culture, but the breadbasket of the world where humanity first domesticated crops and built the earliest civilizations, and this is an attempt to destroy that history," Ms Simmons said.
"Unfortunately, it is just a case of out of sight, out of mind — a lot of history can be forgotten if we're not reminded of it, and these artifacts are the embodiment of a universal, shared history, and I think what we're fighting for is to preserve that and preserve it in the minds of people."
"The ultimate goal […] is creating awareness, building up the database, letting people know that they have access to it — not just academics and researchers, but anyone…"
Before and after images show the destruction of Palmyra’s treasured temple
Washington Post, Friday 28th September
Meanwhile, scientists from Oxford and Harvard have announced plans to install about 5,000 3-D cameras in war zones so that artifacts and historic buildings can be re-created if they are destroyed. The idea, which is being pursued under the name "The Million Image Database Project," was born out of the destruction of the Baal Shamin temple.
Digitale 'Monuments men' openen 3D-front tegen IS
De Morgen, Friday 28th August 2015
Tijdens WO II trachtten de Amerikaanse Monuments men kunstschatten uit de klauwen van de nazi's te redden. Nu proberen Britse en Amerikaanse oudheidkundigen erfgoed in het Midden-Oosten te beschermen tegen IS-barbarij. Al is het dan digitaal.
La 3D au secours des tresors archaeologiques menaces par Daech
Le Figaro, Friday 28th August 2015
Le projet est ambitieux. Dans la lettre de l'Institut d'archéologie numérique situé à Oxford à l'origine du projet, l'équipe explique aspirer à «survoler tout le Moyen-Orient avec des milliers de caméras 3D à bas coût en recrutant des partenaires locaux pour filmer le plus grand nombre d'objets d'importance historique». L'objectif? Réunir près de 20 millions d'images avant la fin de l'année 2017.
Can We Digitize History Before ISIS Destroys it?
The Daily Beast, Wednesday 2nd September 2015
“Digital archaeology, in my view, is the best hope that we have for preserving the architecture, the art history, of these sites,” Roger Michel, the Institute for Digital Archaeology’s executive director, told the BBC.
The institute has spent five years developing the project, but is now expediting its efforts. Michel told the BBC that the push to record these images is “a race against time.”
The program plans to send out 5,000 cameras by the end of 2015 and 5,000 more next year.
Mit 3D-Drucken gegen das Vergessen
Frankfurter Allgemeine, Friday 4th September 2015
Es gebe, so sagte er dieser Zeitung, auch schon konkretere Pläne dafür, wann und wo diese Reproduktion stattfinden soll. Genaueres möchte er „aus Sicherheitsgründen“ aber noch nicht verraten. Fest steht bisher nur, dass insgesamt fünftausend der von einer chinesischen Firma eigens produzierten Kameras im Jemen, in Libanon, in der Türkei und im Irak sowie in Afghanistan verteilt werden sollen. Für die Organisation dieser Verteilung ist der in Oxford arbeitende Ben Altshuler zuständig, der als „field director“ den Kontakt zurUnesco und zu kleineren Organisationen in den arabischen Staaten hält, deren Mitarbeiter sich, da sie zuweilen in der Nähe wertvoller archäologischer Stätten tätig sind, nun eben auch als Fotografen beschäftigen werden. Auf diese Weise hofft das Oxforder Institut, dem nach eigenen Angaben zwei Millionen Pfund von privaten Stiftern zur Verfügung stehen, bis zum Ende des nächsten Jahres rund zwanzig Millionen Bilder von historisch wertvollen Gebäuden, Palästen und Tempeln, aber auch von kleineren Antiquitäten wie Münzen, Tonwaren und Werkzeugen zu besitzen.
Projeto vai fotografar monumentos ameaçados pelo Estado Islâmico
BemParaná Mundo, 12th September 2015
SÃO PAULO, SP (FOLHAPRESS) - Arqueólogos de Harvard e Oxford uniram forças para tentar preservar monumentos históricos sob ameaça de destruição pelo grupo terrorista Estado Islâmico. É o projeto Million Image Database (Banco de dados de um milhão de imagens), que vai distribuir em zonas de guerra 5 mil câmeras que captam imagens em 3D.
zol.com.cn, 6th September 2015
Vom IS bedrohte Kunst: Mit 3D-Technik gegen den Terror
Der Spiegel, Sunday 20th September 2015
Die Katastrophe hatte sich angekündigt. Kein Experte zweifelte nach der Einnahme der syrischen Oasenstadt Palmyra am Zerstörungswillen der Dschihadisten - und die Befürchtungen bewahrheiteten sich: Stück für Stück pulverisieren die Terroristen des "Islamischen Staats" dort seit einigen Wochen Prachtbauten aus der Römerzeit. Der riesige Baal-Tempel, die berühmten Grabtürme, etliche wertvolle Statuen, der prachtvolle Baalschamin-Tempel - alles verloren.
Eine "Zerstörung mit Ansage" beklagen Wissenschaftler - doch resigniert haben sie nicht. Weltweit arbeiten Experten derzeit daran, das bedrohte Erbe der Menschheit vor dem Zerstörungswahn von Terroristen zu bewahren. Gelingen soll das mittels hochkomplexer Technik: Artefakte und ganze Bauwerke sollen als 3D-Scans gespeichert werden und so jederzeit reproduzierbar sein. Kultur aus der Konserve, geht das auf?
Remembrance of Things Past
Architectural Digest, November 2015
Racing Against Militant Threat to Document Syria's Heritage
Boston Globe, Saturday 3rd October 2015
"I don’t want to be having this conversation with somebody three years down the road, and they say, ‘Gee why didn’t you start in 2015 when they (the Islamic State) only controlled 3 percent of the sites,’ ’’ said Roger Michel, whose Million Image Database, an Oxford Institute of Digital Archaeology project, began distributing hundreds of 3-D cameras around the region to activists."
Archäologie: Initiative sichert 3-D-Daten von Kunst und Antiken in Kriegsgebieten
Presseportal, Friday 23rd October 2015
Aus diesem Grund hat das von den Universitäten Harvard und Oxford betriebene Institute for digital Archaeology in Absprache mit UNICEF in Krisengebieten 5000 3-D-Kameras an Freiwillige verteilt: Archäologen, Mitarbeiter von Hilfswerken und einfache Bürger sollen antike Kunstwerke und Stätten fotografieren. Die aufgenommenen Bilder sollen automatisch auf einen von der New York University betriebenen Computer hochgeladen werden. "Indem wir unsere Vergangenheit digital speichern, entziehen wir sie dem Zugriff von Vandalen und Terroristen", sagt Michel in ART.
Archaeologists armed with ‘cheap’ 3D cameras hope to rebuild ancient sites razed by Islamic State
The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 28th October 2015
The Telegraph reports experts from Oxford and Harvard universities plan to “take 3D photographs of every artefact under threat” from IS in an attempt to prevent thousands of years of history being lost.
CNN compared the initiative to an Indiana Jones film. The archaeologists, armed with “cheap 3D cameras”, have been sent to thousands of sites under threat.
Roger Michel is the executive director of The Institute for Digital Archaelogy, a joint venture between the two prestigious schools.
“People in Syria have exactly the same cultural history as we do in New York and Boston and if that gets wiped out by the sands of the desert, that’s going to be a significant thing,” he said.
Des archéologues veulent numériser les vestiges du Moyen-Orient menacés par l'Etat islamique
Clubic, Tuesday 30th June 2015
Face à la menace de l'Etat islamique qui détruit progressivement les vestiges archéologiques du Moyen-Orient, des chercheurs tentent de numériser un maximum de données sur ces derniers, notamment à l'aide de caméras 3D.