Jan 3, 2018 | By Tess

Since ISIS’ campaign of terror and destruction throughout the middle east, a number of efforts have been made to digitally capture and even restore cultural landmarks and ancient monument’s that have been damaged or desolated by the terrorist group.

Such efforts, initiated by groups like UNESCO, Project Mosul, and the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA), have often turned to 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies to help in the restoration of some of the world’s most ancient traces of civilization.

(Image: UNESCO)

Famously, Syria’s Arch of Palmyra, a Roman archway dating back to the 3rd century which was destroyed by ISIS in 2015, was replicated by the IDA and UNESCO using 3D scanning and printing technologies and was publicly displayed in London and New York to show that terror can not eradicate culture or history.

Another restoration project, however, led by UNESCO, has led to some controversy in Israel.

The project, launched in 2015, consisted of restoring the Lion of al-Lāt, an ancient statue of a lion which stood at the temple of the pre-Islamic goddess al-Lāt in Palmyra, Syria until June 2015, when it sustained serious damage at the hands of ISIS.

The massive statue, measuring 3.5 meters in height and weighing 15 tonnes, depicted a large lion standing over an antelope, which was meant to symbolize that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. Once the iconic sculpture was discovered by a UNESCO team, it was transported to the National Museum of Damascus for restoration.

In restoring the Lion of al-Lāt, a team from Oxford-based IDA (supported by UNESCO funding) relied on laser projection equipment and large-scale 3D printing to reproduce parts of the statue that had been destroyed or damaged. In October, 2017, the restoration process was completed.

​(Image: UNESCO)

“The restoration of the Lion of Al-lāt is an important achievement with a symbolic dimension,” said Hamed Al Hammami, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States and UNESCO Representative to Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. “It is part of a broader project to protect the unique cultural heritage of Syria, which unfortunately remains at risk.”

Largely, this project has been recognized as a positive initiative, aimed at preserving Syria’s history from those who seek to eradicate it.

In Israel, however, at least one rabbi has spoken out against the UNESCO-led restoration on the grounds that it promotes idolatry.

Rabbi Daniel Assur, a member of Sanhedrin, has claimed that the 3D printing-based restoration of Syria’s fallen monuments shows that the UN supports idol worship (you know, one of the ten commandments), and thus proves the UN’s “anti-Israel bias.”

“The entire mission of the organization is to blur the differences between the nations in order to bring them all under one roof and one authority in a New World Order,” Rabbi Assur told Breaking Israel News. “The truth is, as the Bible says, there are 70 distinct nations. The UN believes they can create nations out of thin air.  Once they do that, they can say that there are many gods, even ones you can create by 3D printing.”

(Image: Mappo / Wikipedia)

“Because Israel stands as proof of what a nation is and the concept of one God, the UN has a vendetta against Israel and is irrationally biased against us,” Rabbi Assur continued. “They have a messianic vision of a unified government that will fix the world without God and without the Torah. This has always been the goal of idolatry, beginning with Egypt and continuing with the attempts of Rome and Greece to spread paganism across the world. Now we are seeing its modern manifestation.”

While it is unclear whether others in Israel or elsewhere share Rabbi Assur’s controversial opinion about UNESCO’s restoration project (and other initiatives like it), it is certainly at odds with the general sentiment we’ve seen in response to the projects, which is enthusiastic about technology being used to capture, preserve, and restore historical artefacts from humanity’s past, no matter the religion.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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