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Handing over of a 3D model of the city of Palmyra to the Syrian Arab Republic

As part of the 6th Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum, the General Staff building of the State Hermitage was the setting for the formal handover to Syria of a three-dimensional model of the ancient city of Palmyra.


The interdepartmental working group on developing specific measures and preparing recommendations on the coordination of the preservation and reconstruction of objects located in Palmyra included in UNESCO’s World Hermitage list, acting on behalf of the State Hermitage and the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Material Culture, presented the Department of Antiquities and Museums of the Syrian Arab Republic with an electronic version of the three-dimensional landscape and architectural model of the state of the UNESCO World Heritage site “The Archaeological Monuments of Palmyra” that has been created by Russian specialists as a basis for further joint work on the preservation and reconstruction of the museums and edifices of Palmyra.

The document of transfer was signed by Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, Natalia Solovyeva, Deputy Director of the Institute of Material Culture, and Riyad Haddad, Syria’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Russian Federation.

“We are formally handing over to the Syrian ambassador materials that have been prepared by our specialists and that will make it possible in the future to speak about the regeneration of Palmyra’s architectural monuments. The value of this 3D model is that it was made not for the press, not for TV, but for researchers. It allows people without visiting the site to look at things and see how they are lying,” Mikhail Piotrovsky announced.
Natalia Solovyeva explained that the Syrian side was receiving on a special electronic medium a 3D model of Palmyra, high-precision relief maps and orthophotomaps. She said that “this is the first time a three-dimensional model on such a scale has been created to produce a scientific tool for planning any subsequent measures: reconstruction work, restoration, the monitoring of the condition of objects and scholarly research.”

The 3D model of the ancient city that was wrecked by militants in 2015 was produced using pictures taken by Russian archaeologists, specialists belonging to the Institute of Material Culture. A team of researchers from St Petersburg under the leadership of the Institute’s Deputy Director, Natalia Solovyeva, undertook a mission to Palmyra in Syria in September 2016 in order to record the extent of the destruction, to carry out a photographic survey and produce a 3D model of the entire architectural and landscape complex. The construction of the 3D model took Russian specialists around a year. Today it contains the most complete and up-to-date information about the state of Palmyra.

“The Syrian side greatly appreciates Russia’s interest in the protection of Syria’s cultural heritage and the efforts made by Russian specialists, especially the role of the Hermitage and the Russian Ministry of Culture in the creation of a three-dimensional model of the ancient city of Palmyra,” Riyad Haddad stated. “Today a very remarkable event has taken place, the presentation to us of a 3D model of Palmyra and now we can begin the practical work towards its reconstruction. We hope that through the use of the material that we have received, we will be able to reconstruct Palmyra as it was before. The government of Syria has been exerting great efforts from the very start of the crisis and the terrorist war to preserve monuments, including by removing objects to places of safety, but the terrorists, supported by certain regional and international players, were able to infiltrate such historical areas as Palmyra,” the ambassador added.

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