Before I talk about what I originally wanted to, I want to bring up this article that also questioned what the Arch of Triumph was made out of. Its a very interesting article and I am going to post the whole thing. This is an update from a previous paper on what the Arch was made of.
On the 19th April 2016, the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), with Mayor of London Boris Johnson, unveiled their replica of the Triumphal Arch at Palmyra in Trafalgar Square. There had been much anticipation and build-up to the event among the press. The press releases all claimed that this replica of the arch had been milled from Egyptian marble and was an exact reproduction of the Triumphal Arch. In fact, the central arch has been removed from its context(it is one of three that make up the Triumphal Arch structure in Palmyra) and is about one third the size of the original, in a uniform yellowish material and roughly modelled from photographs. It seems the Institute of Digital Archaeology has been overstating its aims and abilities. Do their claims stand scrutiny?
Photograph of the original, towering over people passing under
Photograph of the copy; note the size of the people in comparison to the arch.
“I think that this may be the most exact reproduction of any kind of classical structure ever made. It got to the point where we were trying to decide whether to include cobwebs, bird’s nests, moss that was on the structure […] The idea would be to install 3D printing grids on a site near to Palmyra, to use the same cutting tool technology on location in Palmyra which will provide jobs for local people.” (Roger Michel, speaking on the BBC on 19/4/2016)
A cursory comparison between the original and the replica confirms that this is an approximate copy and not a facsimile or replica. Cobwebs and bird’s nests seem to be far from their biggest worry with regards to accuracy. The more detailed photograph below demonstrates that their copy doesn’t match the original in terms of detail, decoration and colour let alone scale.
The back of the IDA copy. Note the uniformity of colour and texture; the bricks all fused together and smoothed, looking like bars of soap. Many of the specific details do not correspond to the original central arch.
The back of the original. Note the texture and colour variants of the stones at the top of the arch.
What Material was used? Was it carved in stone with a CNC robot or printed from a composite resin? The IDA press release said the replica had been milled from several blocks of Egyptian marble. Boris Johnson, in his column for the Daily Telegraph, said:
“It will not be perfect. It will not be made of the same pinkish-golden stone of that original temple gateway, which ISIS has blown to atoms. It will be made of resin.” (Boris Johnson, The Telegraph, 27 March 2016)
The claim that the arch is made form Egyptian marble seems to be at odds with other statements and claims made by Roger Michel about IDA’s method. Simon Jenkins of the Guardian, writes:
“Michel claims his printers can reproduce not just the texture and surface contour of stone, but its physical makeup. They can extrude layers of the same sand, water and sodium bicarbonate that formed the artificial stone often used by the ancients. They can reconstitute the original dust of a ruin in situ. It is no different in concept from the French Archaeologists who, in the last century, re-erected Palmyra’s colonnade.” (Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, 29/3/2016)
More recently the idea of milling into Egyptian marble in Italy seems to be the preferred method:
“The decision to build it in Egyptian marble – which they claim will be close to the original in appearance – was also a late one. But an arch here or there is barely the half of it. Michel says he is ‘in discussions right now with folks in Aleppo about reconstructing the minaret of the mosque there’.” (Nigel Richardson, The Telegraph, 18 April 2016)
Digital Restoration is one of the most important emerging subjects – separating the task of preservation from that of restoration. In Michel’s publicity seeking statements he seems intent not only on blurring the distinction between printing and carving, but the suggestion that the Minaret in Aleppo can be made this way is both misleading and fanciful.
The Decorative Detail
While there may be confusion over the materials and the scale there is no confusion about the details on the arch. The stonework has been simplified but the capitals have entirely lost their sense and meaning.
The top of the replica. The Corinthian column looking more akin to fish scales or feathers.
They are clearly not Acanthus leaves nor based on the language of this form or order of classical decoration.
Image of a section of the original. Compare the detail on capital in the top left, above, with the one on the replica below (red square). Compare with photo of the replica below (blue square): notice the detail on the capital and the fact that large parts of the copy do not correspond with the design, proportion or detail of the arch.
Photograph by Daniel Demeter for Syriaphotoguide.com
Photo of installation. The blue square, corresponding to the blue square in the previous photo of the original.
Notice the lack of detail on the capital, and what is effectively made-up information on the border.
[The decorative features] are, says Michel, “completely indistinguishable from the original”. He is also offering the Syrians two printers that, he claims can operate at a speed that “should enable us to rebuild what has been destroyed inside six months”. (Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, 29/3/2016)
Not only is it easy to demonstrate that this copy is quite clearly distinguishable from the original, but Michel’s claim about rebuilding Palmyra is both misleading and irresponsible. Fortunately the destruction in Palmyra was not as bad as some feared. In the days after the site was recaptured, Iconem (a French ‘not for profit’ team) carried out aerial photogrammetry of the site and high-resolution photogrammetry of some of the details. This is exactly the work that should be supported. It cost a fraction of the budget for IDA’s arch and will allow CNC milling or 3D printing at meaningful levels of accuracy. If this work had been done before the ISIS destruction it would have would have been even more meaningful.
3D printing and re-materialisation technologies are developing fast. When digital skills are merged with artisanal craft skills a great deal can be achieved – but this work is slow, expensive and dependent on scholarship and knowledge. While a reduced size low resolution arch with very little detail can be made in 30 days using a CNC router or a 3D printer it has no meaning or function in preservation or restoration. The claim that two CNC routing systems can rebuild Palmyra in six months is factually wrong.
The debate over whether Palmyra should be rebuilt at all need to take place publicly and in a considered way. The argument given by the IDA (which was used to justify its unveiling in London), is that London was rebuilt after the blitz. It brings to mind Aleppo – this great city has been reduced to rubble. At the end of the conflict and before the city is rebuilt, it will be a vast archaeological site in heed of emergency archaeology. Politicians should be focusing on this and providing the money to make it happen. London was rebuilt but not as it was before the Blitz.
“Trafalgar Square, then, is the display case, and the arch within it ‘proof of our competency to do these things’ [Roger Michel].” (Nigel Richardson, The Telegraph, 18 April 2016)
Sadly this simplistic publicity seeking exercise has proved the reverse. What is worse is it has done it using the names of Oxford and Harvard Universities to give it academic credibility. It is hoped that both Oxford and Harvard will distance themselves from this theme park approach and promote an understanding of the role of digital preservation that will help to protect the past. It should be noted that other universities are already starting to do this in ways that will advance the subject.
IDA mock-up of what it would look like (interestingly much more detailed than the replica).
What the media has said since the arch was erected:
The IDA Arch has been receiving some critical responses from different media outlets, including:
“It is too early to say if “critical reconstruction” is an appropriate approach at Palmyra but shipping an Italian/Egyptian copy of an arch to Syria that does not incorporate either original material or reveal in its design something of the trauma of the attack upon it simply cannot be right.” (Robert Bevan, Evening Standard, 25 April 2016)
“The marble is smooth, bright and plasticky; it looks as much like a Roman ruin as the Disneyland castle looks like an actual medieval fortress. […]”But putting [the arch] in London seems a little smug, not to mention hypocritical. The message is that Iraqis and Syrians can’t be trusted to take care of their own artefacts, that we in the west are still the guardians of universal culture. In other words, it’s a form of looting – we’ve stolen a piece of Syrian history, copied it and tried to make it our own.” (Sam Kriss, Vice, 25 April 2016)
“The publicity stunt has not been without controversy. It is costing a reported £2.5m and some archaeologists believe the money could have been better spent on Syria’s existing monuments.” (Edwin Heathcote, The Financial Times, 19 April 2016)
It has been reported that the replica cost between £100,000 to create (Lauren Turner, BBC News, 19/4/2016) and 2.5 million (Edwin Heathcote, The Financial Times, 19 April 2016). The true cost of producing a set design like this can be obtained from the Royal Opera House whose skilled craftsmen can do it fast and effectively.
Factum Arte has years of experience of making exact facsimiles, and working with both 3D printing and CNC milling. We also have some very skilled digital modellers. The test below was modelled by Irene Gaume in Madrid from photographs obtained over the internet. The modelling from start to finish took about 200 hours. The milling took about 150 hours. The costs of this can be easily calculated – At a ‘special rate’, skilled 3D modelling will cost at least 60 euros an hour. Milling costs about the same. The section shown here is a 63 x 59.5 cm routing of details on the Arch of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra. The 3D data was hand-modelled from photographs.
Image of the routed section of the arch of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra routed into high density polyurethane
Section of the 3D model from which the routed section was made. The 3D modeling was based on freely available photographs.
When high-resolution 3D documentation and re-materialisation is done correctly, it creates opportunities in the academic, economic and cultural spheres. Factum Foundation’s facsimile of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt, serves as a strong example. In 2009, Factum Foundation and Factum Arte used high-resolution 3D scanning and composite photography to document the entire surface of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber. The purpose of this work was to communicate to the 7,000 tourists a day who visited the Valley of the Kings the problems of protecting and preserving sites that were built to last for eternity but never to be visited. Mass tourism is a significant but destructive force for cultural heritage. It brings income into communities that are desperately in need, but there is an urgent need to get the visitors to understand how to make tourism sustainable. The production of the exact facsimile of Tutankhamun both provided the data to monitor decay, produced a didactic experience linking heritage and technology and provided jobs in the local community.
It has been installed next to Howard Carter’s House at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings as part of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative. This project is being run by the Ministry of Antiquities, Basel University and Factum Foundation – you can follow its progress here.
Facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun
The facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun also serves as the inaugural project of a multi-year outreach program in Luxor; the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative is designed to offer training and capacity building in cultural preservation for the Egyptian communities. The Initiative is a sustainable system in which the tombs of the Valley of the Kings will be preserved and studied on site, by local custodians with advanced digital and artisanal skills.
Factum Foundation’s mission to raise awareness about precise 3D documentation and re-materialisation of cultural heritage has never been more relevant or imperative. For the Foundation, a facsimile is a testament to the quality of the data and to a highly-developed approach to digital printing (in 3D and colour) and other re-materialisation technologies. (http://www.factumfoundation.org/pag/236/)
So from the looks of it, these people even question how the Arch was made and with what materials. It seems there is some more dishonesty going on again.
Now let me bring up what I originally had wanted to say. I was looking at pictures of the Royal Arch Degree and a few things caught my attention. Let me first point out that the capstone that was on the original Arch is still around. It never got destroyed. It was featured in a exhibition in Venice in 2016. “On May 25th, in Collaboration with London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, the IDA unveiled a major Palmyra-themed exhibit at the Venice Biennale, the premiere exhibition site for the latest innovations in art and architecture world-wide. The exhibition, which will run from May to November, and which will be seen by more than a half -million visitors, features elements of Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch, including the ornate keystone. The goal of the installation is to provoke discussion about the role of historic reconstruction in preserving and curating ancient sites and to bring attention to the new digital technologies available for this purpose.”
So this got me thinking while looking at these pictures of the Royal Arch Degree. I want you to notice how the keystone is the key to this arch. We know that this is the Roman Arch of Triumph but we also know that this was the entrance into Palmyra where the Temple of Bel stood and the Temple of Baalshamin was nearby.
Someone made a comment in a French message board that said this about the connection to the Arch entrance and these Temples.
I think he made a great point. I’ve said time and time again that this is NOT the Arch of Baal like 99% of people suggest. Add its not. But with that said, it is very much an access point to Baal ie Hubal ie Satan. I think it is the key to the doorstep of Baal and the motto for Arona proves it. Passing through moving forward. That’s what they want people to do not only physically but spiritually. This is why I think the Arch will stay in Arona on the mountain of strength for another two months until Jupiter is birthed. And yes, I think Jupiter has everything to do with the Arch. Think about the rock that fell from heaven that was in Ephesus in the Temple of Diana (Venus). They believed that this rock came from Jupiter. We are seeing a modern version of what Scripture showed us in the book of Acts. This time its a complete Arch.
But the issue here is the keystone. The piece that holds the key to all of this. Look at the pictures below and look closely at the keystone. What do you notice?
Did you notice that when the keystone isn’t present, this is where the shekinah of their god ie all seeing eye shines through. Mow look at the last two pictures. This is a diploma of sorts that is given put to initiates when achieving the Royal Arch Degree. Do you see the hanged man coming through where the keystone was? “Esoterically, the Hanged Man is the human spirit which is suspended from heaven by a single thread. Wisdom, not death, is the reward for this voluntary sacrifice during which the human soul, suspended above the world of illusion, and meditating upon its unreality, is rewarded by the achievement of self-realization.” ― Manly P. Hall
To get through this “sacrifice” they will get Sophia (wisdom) as a reward. I know, he isn’t hanging by his foot but you get my point hopefully. The Arch is representing that divine feminine that these occultist love and they want man to break on through to the other side to Baal. I think this is what this keystone represents. Not only the keystone but the Arch. Its a spiritual thing that is going on here and its definetly not good.
Now look at another picture of this royal arch.
Do you see the 69 keystone? I talked about the significance of the number 69 here but like I said before, I think this Arch has a strong connection to Jupiter. Do you remember the big announcement of Jupiter’s 69 moons a few months ago? Strange that they find two more moons/satellite’s to now make 69. And we see this 69 on the keystone of the Arch.
Now look at how these moons orbit Jupiter and then look at how CERN accelerates particles. Kinda looks familiar huh? Jupiter has its RED eye and so does CERN.
And while I’m taking about Jupiter, let me throw in that they announced that Jupiter’s eye won’t be around for another generation. Does that sound like they are telegraphing anything? His time is short…