2019 Yearbook

46 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 1 9 and print media coverage. Against this backdrop, it is interesting to ponder why the project has so powerfully captured the public imagination. The reason, perhaps, takes us back to the question of the real meaning of cultural heritage to real people. This project is one that has been made possible by ingenious digital techniques, but the structure that has been created is far more than a technological proof-of- concept for a new way of building things. The arch is not an attempt to replace an original structure, but rather a substrate for the formation of new relationships that reference it. For some, it provides a means to reconnect with, or resurrect, their personal relationships with the original object. For those with no personal connection with Palmyra it has meaning as a symbol of support for a shared understanding of humanity, history, and heritage. Although the practical implementation of the work might be reduced to a concept for the reversal of physical damage to physical things – for their restoration or reconstruction – this is not a project that’s activities can be summed up solely through some variety of technical assessment. Rather, it is about an exploration of restoration in a much broader sense. The project of supporting communities that have suffered as a result of cultural cleansing or the large-scale devastation of physical heritage, however wrought, is not just about the practical challenge of rebuilding physical things. It is about restoring people’s connections with each other and with their history and their culture, through the act of the reconstruction of physical things. This means that the success of any project that references the restoration or reconstruction of heritage objects and architecture should be measured not only by the impressiveness of the technology that makes it possible – crucial though that is – but in the extent to which the process of reconstruction enables people or peoples to retain or reclaim the sense of individual and community identity invested in what is being rebuilt. Digital techniques open doors to some exciting opportunities in the context of heritage restoration and protection but they find their greatest and highest use not as instruments of progress for its own sake, but in the service of the most human goals. Further Information: C Battini and G Landi, ‘3D Tracking Based Augmented Reality for Cultural Heritage Data Management’, Int. Arch. Photogramm . Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci. 40(5), W4, 375–79, 2015 G Tucci, J L Lerma, Applied Geomatics , Vol 10, Issue 4, 2018 Alexy Karenowska DPhil is the director of technology at The Institute for Digital Archaeology (www. digitalarchaeology.org.uk) and a research scientist in Oxford’s Department of Physics where she is a fellow of Magdalen College. In March 2017 the reproduction arch was installed in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy as the visual centrepiece of the city’s cultural exhibition in connection with the G7 Culture Summit. Members of the project team stand in front of the reproduction arch with the sons of the murdered architect, Khaled Al Asaad. The reproduction arch spent the summer of 2017 in Arona, southern Italy as a tribute to his memory.