Alessandra ALVISI
(Sapienza – Università di Roma, Rome, Italy)

Keywords: cultural heritage, armed conflict, technological innovation, digital reconfiguration, 3D printing

On January 20th 2017 the Tetrapylon and parts of the Theatre proscenium in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, have been destroyed. This is only the last of a series of dreadful actions recently accomplished by ISIS. After the destruction of the Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch at the end of 2015, the monument symbol of the Syrian archaeological site has been digitally reconstructed and then replicated using 3D printing technology. The exposition of the artifact, made in Carrara, took place in London and in New York, receiving a warmhearted welcome by people.
The contribution focuses on one of the critical topics that the international scientific community has to face: the incessant threat that afflicts Syria and Iraq (just to mention the most recent events) is causing the damage and loss of significant and unique ancient buildings and artifacts of the local culture. International and worldwide institutions are already moving for the prevention from the attacks and the protection of cultural heritage of the sites considered endangered. Unfortunately, many monuments are already damaged and other have been completely burned to the ground: the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan, dynamited in March 2001 by the Taliban; the mud Shrines of Timbuktu, Mali, vandalized by Islamist fighters in 2012; the Assyrian Ziggurat at Nimrud, Iraq, ravaged by ISIS in 2016.
Therefore the problem arises on how to deal with the situation, with which criteria restore the ruins and especially if to undertake the reconstruction and how deep push it. Recent experiences show an interesting potential in the use of new technologies to digitally reconfigure the lost monuments: a conscious approach must guide their application, outlining clearly the aims.
The contribution intends to analyze the theme on a theoretical level and consider with a critical approach the opportunities offered by the innovative technologies that today scientific progress makes available. The purpose is to outline how to tackle this challenge with an aware use of technologies in the transmission of cultural heritage values to the future.

Relevance conference / Relevance session:
The contribution intends to analyze the opportunities offered by innovative technologies in the field of cultural heritage from a theoretical point of view.

The purpose is to analyze how to tackle the challenge with an aware use of technologies in the transmission of CH values to the future through a process first theoretical and than technical.


  1. ALVISI, Lacuna architettonica e innovazione tecnologica. Aspetti teorici e metodologici, PhD in Urban Recovery and Regeneration dissertation, defended on 9 January 2015, Sapienza Università di Roma
  2. Exhibition “Reborn from destruction. Ebla, Nimrud, Palmyra” (Colosseum, Rome 7 October-11 December 2016)