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UK: Replicas of Palmyra arch to go on show in London, NY

Giant replicas of an ancient arch in the Syrian city of Palmyra attacked by Islamic State (IS) jihadists will go on show in London and New York next year, organisers said Monday.

Replicas of Palmyra arch to go on show in London, NY
The archway of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra will be recreated in New York City 
and London [Credit: Sandra Auger/Reuters/Corbis]

The full-size recreation of the arch from the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel will reportedly made using the world's biggest 3D printer and put on display in London's Trafalgar Square and Times Square in New York in April.

IS seized Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site northeast of Damascus known as the "Pearl of the Desert", in May and beheaded its 82-year-old former antiquities chief three months later.

In September, satellite images confirmed that the Temple of Bel, the main temple at Palmyra, had been targeted by IS as part of a campaign to destroy pre-Islamic monuments, tombs and statues it considers idolatrous.

Replicas of Palmyra arch to go on show in London, NY
Digital rendering of the proposed Syrian arch of Palmyra 
[Credit: Institute for Digital Archaeology]

UN experts said the main building of the temple plus a row of columns had been destroyed.

Alexy Karenowska, director of technology at the Institute of Digital Archaeology in Oxford which is funding the reconstruction, confirmed a Times newspaper report that the replicas would be created for a special world heritage week.

"Reproductions/models of the structure, large and small, will be produced and installed around the world in schools, museums and prominent public spaces," Karenowska wrote in an email to AFP.

Replicas of Palmyra arch to go on show in London, NY
Model of how the arch will look in Trafalgar Square 
[Credit: Institute for Digital Archaeology]

The institute's executive director, Roger Michel, was quoted in The Times as saying that the replicas standing 15 metres (50 feet) high were likely to be on temporary display.

"It is really a political statement, a call to action, to draw attention to what is happening in Syria and Iraq and now Libya," he added.

"We are saying to them, 'If you destroy something, we can rebuild it again.'

"The symbolic value of these sites is enormous -- we are restoring dignity to people."

Source: AFP [December 29, 2015]