Since taking over large swaths of the Middle East, terrorist group ISIS has destroyed various monuments and historic buildings which they consider “idolatrous”.  One of those sites destroyed was what once was the Temple of Baal, an ancient temple that was later converted to a Christian church and then an Islamic mosque.  In August last month, ISIS militants destroyed it and beheaded the archaeologist who had served as its caretaker for 40 years since they viewed its pre-Islamic history as “sacrilegious”.  

Earlier this year, a rumor was circulating that the Temple of Baal would be rebuilt as a house of worship in Times Square.  This ultimately turned out to be false, but only half so: yesterday, a replica of the entrance to the temple, Triumphal Arch of Palmyra, was unveiled in City Hall Park.  A 3D-printed replica of the arch, created shortly after the original was destroyed, is now on display in City Hall Park, where it will stand until the end of the week before being moved to Dubai.  It was previously in London’s Trafalgar Square.  It was created by the Institute for Digital Archaeology as part of a joint venture with UNESCO, which gives 3D cameras to volunteers so they can photograph and preserve threatened sites in conflict zones in the Middle East.  Certain critics have objected to the temple’s reconstructing, saying that it would lead to ritualistic “debauchery”, yet so far that hasn’t happened.  

The 25-foot-tall replica was made of Egyptian marble and weighs nearly 30,000 pounds.  It will be open to the public for a week, with historical interpreters leading tours and workshops on site.  Roger Michel, the IDA’s executive director, has spoken of the arch as a symbol for the world’s resilience against the suffering and tragedy going on around the world.  

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