Resurrecting Treasures from the Rubble – Thank a Robot!

Technology to the rescue!  When I first read that Syria’s Assad had ousted the ISIS militants from Palmyra, I took little notice since I am not really sure if any news is actually good news anymore in that part of the world.  But it seems that with Palmyra now in the hands of the Syrian government, one can only hope that Syrian leaders will become more actively engaged in the reconstruction of these archaeological treasures.
Modern technology has also made the reconstruction of damaged historic landmarks possible through the use of 3D computer modeling generated from dozens of photographs taken by archaeologists over the years.  Fortunately, Palmyra has benefitted from the growing popularity of digital archaeology as a new frontier in the preservation of ancient architectural jewels. Now here is where the robots come in. These photographs can be put into a database, and once experts are confident that the computer model contains all the structural information necessary, a file is sent to Italy where robots carve the reproduction from blocks of Egyptian marble.

The fact that these marvelous structures were destroyed by man’s wanton disregard for past civilizations’ treasures, or plundered for personal or political gain, should enrage us all.   This is but one example of how the ravages of war can destroy marvels from mankind’s past.  In a very important way technology has the power to help us preserve archaeological wonders in spite of man’s wanton destruction.

Ray Myers


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