Indiana Jones

3D Printers to Recreate Ancient Treasures Destroyed by Isis

ancient treasures

Scientists plan to “flood” Syria and Iraq with 3D cameras, and use 3D printers to recreate ancient treasures destroyed by terror groups.

Roger Michel (left) is on a mission to record endangered antiquities
Roger Michel (left) is on a mission to record endangered antiquities

A team of brave archaeologists from Oxford and Harvard Universities have launched a high-tech offensive against terror groups like Isis, by recording detailed 3D models of endangered ancient sites and artefacts in the Middle East. The academics will surround ancient treasures with 3D cameras, allowing them to eventually rebuild anything destroyed by Isis using 3D printing technology.

The Institute for Digital Archaeology is collaborating with the heritage body UNESCO to gather five million images of antiquities ranging from Mesopotamian palaces to handfuls of coins and pottery by the end of the year.

“People in Syria have exactly the same cultural history as we do in New York and Boston,” says Roger Michel, executive director of the IDA told CNN, “and if that gets wiped out by the sands of the desert, that’s going to be a significant thing.”

The project is a race against time as Isis tears through the region with bulldozers and sledgehammers, destroying anything they deem heretical or false idols. Most recently, the group is reported to have attacked the 2,000-year-old temple of Baal Shamin in Palmyra in Syria.

The success of the project all depends on a low-cost digital camera, specially developed for rapid deployment. The cost of the technology has dropped to such an extent that the cost of the parts needed to build each camera will total around $27 each. The goal is to bulk produce and distribute over 5,000 of these camera models before the end of the year.

The Institute will place hundreds of the internet-enabled 3D cameras around important sites, where they will take full photographic records from several different angles, before uploading them to an open-source database online. The cameras will be distributed via archaeology networks in Iraq and then Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, and eastern Turkey.