A 3D Database of Threatened Syrian Heritage Sites

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tags: ISIS, ISIL, Ancient Artifacts, Cultural Heritage Sites



A team of digital surveyors is working to create the world’s largest 3D database of archaeological sites in Syria, focusing on those at risk of destruction. Last week, French 3D digitization agency Iconem launched Syrian Heritage, a project organized with the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) to preserve a patrimony increasingly threatened by warfare and violence, namely at the hands of ISIS. The team specializes in digitizing cultural heritage and has previously focused on regions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Italy, and elsewhere.

Three sites in the war-torn country are currently accessible on Syrian Heritage: the 8th century Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus; Ugarit, an ancient port site; and the Roman-era Jabley amphitheater. Each has its own page, which offers a brief history of the site; videos showing high-resolution, digitally reconstructed views; and elevation plans. Three-dimensional models published on SketchFab also allow you to interact with select sections of each site by zooming in to examine incredibly precise details. Each piece of the intricate mosaics on the Great Mosque’s Pavilion of the Treasury, for instance, is captured. Many of these visuals, however, are unfortunately not captioned, which does remove context necessary to understanding these sites. Still, the project is an important preventative measure, as the countless attacks and acts of cultural destruction in the past year alone have proven.

“The unquestionable strength of digital archaeology is its capability to save a site’s knowledge and memory,” Iconem co-founder Yves Ubelmann told Hyperallergic. “This makes it an invaluable tool for researchers, historians, and archeologists, and — beyond them — the general public. It is also a great way to make sure that their memory will be passed on to future generations.”




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