Cambridge applicant finds new home for reconstructed Syrian arch destroyed by ISIS

Image credit: Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons

A Cambridge applicant has persuaded the Institute of Digital Architecture (IDA) to exhibit the reconstructed Monumental Arch of Palmyra in her hometown, after interning at her local museum in order to “beef up” her personal statement, according to The Telegraph.

The Monumental Arch, also known as the Arch of Triumph, was built in the Syrian city in the third century, during the reign of Roman emperor Septimus Severus. It was one of the main attractions of Palmyra before its destruction by so-called Islamic State in October 2015.

A replica of the central part of the Arch was carved using a 3D computer model in 2016. It has been displayed in Trafalgar Square in London, and in New York City.

It will also be exhibited in the small Italian town of Arona later this year due to the efforts of Olivia Neil-Jones, a Classics applicant who contacted the IDA while she was interning for her local museum.

She hoped to get material about the life of Khaled al-Asaad, the curator of the Palmyra UNESCO World Heritage Site who was murdered by IS militants, because the museum had decided to rename itself to commemorate the archaeologist.

After several months, Olivia was told that the archaeological museum had been placed on a shortlist of possible homes for the Arch. In order to secure its display as an exhibition on “the passion that shaped al-Assad’s life”, she went to meetings between the museum and officials from Arona.

It will be unveiled on 25 March alongside another exhibition recognising Italy’s and the Middle East’s shared Roman heritage, and honouring those protecting threatened archaeological sites all over the globe.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Olivia said that she thought al-Assad would have been “proud of” the exhibition.

She goes on to say how she has started a new joint project with local schoolchildren and the IDA called the “Whole Italy Catalogue”, that will use photographs to allow local historical buildings to be reconstructed in the event of earthquakes.

She said, “I am now focused on an even more exciting project that if successful will leave a lasting legacy and will be something Italian kids can do to protect their heritage, something they can be proud of.”

Olivia Neil-Jones has been contacted by TCS for comment.

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