A new exhibit in Rome’s Colosseum brings back to life cultural treasures of the Middle East bulldozed by the Islamic State.

“Rising from Destruction: Ebla, Nimrud, Palmyra,” which will run through December 16th of this year, features both reproductions and originals of statues, busts, and architectural artifacts that have been damaged or completely destroyed in the past couple of years.

Thanks to a combination of high-resolution images, 3D printers, curators, and dedicated sculptors, the exhibit has been able to reconstruct, among other things, the winged, human-headed bull of Nimrud, an artifact from the North-West palace of Nimrud dating as far back as the 13th century BC.

Other artifacts on display include a reconstruction of a damaged archive room from Ebla, a reconstruction of a portion of the ceiling of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, and two (authentic) marble busts from Palmyra that were damaged but not completely destroyed by ISIS. The Temple of Bel, which had retained much of its original architectural structure throughout the centuries, was almost completely obliterated by the Islamic State.

Exhibition curator Francesco Rutelli, former culture minister and mayor of Rome, affirmed that “we do not accept the return of iconoclasm, meaning the slaughter of heritage alongside the murder of innocent people.” He added that the exhibit’s message is “to show that all that has been destroyed can be reconstructed.”

The Colosseum, which draws approximately 6.5 million visitors per year, is an ideal location for the exhibit, which is meant to raise awareness of the destruction of cultural heritage and to encourage the protection of important sites and monuments. UNESCO has described the destruction carried out by ISIS as a war crime.

For more good pictures of the exhibit, see here.


Photo credit: jzielcke via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND