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The ancient site of Palmyra, parts of which have now been destroyed by Daesh vandals Reuters/Mohamed Aza
“Details are still emerging of the scale of destruction on the heritage site of Palmyra in Syria. Now work is beginning by archaeologists at Oxford and Harvard, determined to create a digital record of the ancient sites that remain. They are planning to get thousands of 3D cameras into Syria and Iraq that can be used by people on the ground to take 3D images of the countries’ cultural heritage.
“This work is part of a growing trend to create heritage archives that can be used to support young people learning about world cultures. Online photo banks of heritage artefacts are growing. In the UK, there are quite a few heritage–based visual resources that can be used in the classroom, such as The British Museum’s project “teaching history with 100 objects” and the Wessex Archaeology collection.
“Recently, special attention has been placed on 3D heritage visualisations, especially in the emerging area of 3D printing for education. The start-up project Museofabber aims to 3D-print museum collections and use them in the classrooms, inviting teachers to send in requests for objects to be printed. Other 3D printing initiatives include 3D miniatures made by the Virtual Curation Laboratory and 3D printed bones at the University of Western Florida.”
Transportation of Lebanese cedar. A relief, circa 713–716bce, from the north wall of the main court of King Sargon II’s palace at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (present-day Khorsabad in Iraq)
Department of Oriental Antiquities, Louvre Museum, Paris
Image credit Marie-Lan Nguyen. Source Wikimedia Commons
European and US museums that preserve and display Assyrian artefacts from the ancient royal cities under attack by Islamic State (IS) are working to help their Iraqi colleagues prepare for a day when the sites are liberated. A coalition of the willing exists but it remains to be seen whether institutions will co-ordinate their efforts.
Jonathan Tubb, the keeper of the Middle East department at the British Museum in London, urges organisations to do more than express outrage. “We need to get over the threshold of despair – we can do something positive and constructive by preparing for the time when effective government control is restored,” he says.
While the sites in northern Iraq are no-go areas, the British Museum plans to work with colleagues from other parts of Iraq to train a “task force” of professionals in rescue archaeology and emergency heritage management in London. They will return, accompanied by British Museum curators, equipped to draw up plans of action for sites including Nimrud and Nineveh.
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A Google Earth image showing the Fornham All Saints Cursus in East Anglia, England
Mariam Ghaemi, writing for EADT24, reports that –
Prominent archaeologists and historians have called for a “major excavation” of a development site which sits in a landscape of potentially “international significance”.
These specialists have signed an open letter which is published in the EADT today concerning land on the edge of Bury St Edmunds, near Fornham All Saints, where building work for about 900 homes could begin in May. Concerns are over the proximity of the site to the Fornham All Saints cursus – a Neolithic processional way 1.2 miles long and a Scheduled Ancient Monument which has been dubbed as potentially “significant as Stonehenge”. The open letter says the cursus sits amid a landscape of high-level archaeological activity, “potentially of international significance”. It raises questions over the archaeological investigations at the development site, which Dr Tom Licence, director of the Centre of East Anglian Studies at the University of East Anglia, said the cursus may actually extend into.