Russia’s State Hermitage Museum is ready to start the reconstruction of historical sites in Syria’s Palmyra as soon as the opportunity arises, Hermitage Director and President of the Union of Museums in Russia Mikhail Piotrovsky said in an interview with TASS. He added, however, that no global campaign had been launched yet that would bring together experts from all over the world.
"Information is being collected and studied, and various consultations are underway on what to do and how to do it," he said. "However, there has been no global campaign. We are calling for a comprehensive global campaign to reinstate a cultural policy of preserving Syrian monuments," Piotrovsky added.
He pointed out that Russian experts had created the most complete and up-to-date 3D model of Palmyra, which might be helpful in the reconstruction of devastated sites. The model was handed over to Syria at the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum in 2017.
According to Piotrovsky, such work has been done in other countries as well. "Everyone is doing it. Those things are called 3D models but they are all very different. Some are based on old photos but we used cutting-edge technologies, photos were taken on the ground so ours is the most up-to-date [model]," the Hermitage director noted.
At the same time, in his view, fragmented efforts by researchers and renovators from various countries will not produce the desired result. "Everyone is ready to work with this material but there is no international institution, yet accordingly there should be one. The worst will happen when everybody starts to do something on their own, which is what is slowly happening. We insist that UNESCO launch a large-scale campaign, while we are already training renovators and getting ready to restore items from Palmyra as soon as the opportunity arises," Piotrovsky said.
Palmyra’s 3D model
The 3D model of Palmyra, an ancient Syrian city destroyed by militants in 2015, was created based on photos taken by archeologists from the Institute for the History of Material Culture at the Russian Academy of Sciences and the State Hermitage Museum. In September 2016, after Syrian government forces had liberated the city, a Russian expert team, headed by the Institute’s Deputy Director Natalya Solovyova, went to Palmyra in September 2016 in order to record the scale of the destruction, take photos and create a 3D model of the complex.
It took Russian experts about a year to create the model, which currently presents the most complete and up-to-date information about the city’s condition.