LONDON: A replica of an 1,800-year-old iconic Palmyra Arch destroyed by dreaded Islamic State terrorists in Syria has been erected at Trafalgar Square here today as part of an initiative to raise awareness about the common universal heritage.
"Palmyra's Arch of Triumph" has been made by carving stone to the exact shape of the original working from a database of 3D photographs collected by the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA).
It will stand in London for four days to coincide with World Heritage Week.
The replica, which cost 100,000 pounds and weighs 12-tonnes, will then travel around the world, visiting New York's Times Square and Dubai, before being taken to Syria.
"It is a message of raising awareness in the world. We have common heritage. Our heritage is universal - it is not just for Syrian people," said Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria's director of antiquities.
The original arch was built by the Romans and destroyed as the world watched in May last year when ISIS captured Palmyra by using dynamite, bulldozers and pickaxes to destroy a series of monuments at the UNESCO World Heritage site.
In October last year, ISIS destroyed the 20-foot 'Arch of Triumph', which had been described as the "jewel in the collection" at the Palmyra site.
Palmyra, and its complex of ancient ruins, was recaptured at the end of March this year.
At least 280 people were executed during the occupation of the city, according to UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The creation of the 18-foot scale replica model began as IDA executive director Roger Michel found that the institute's Million Images Database of 3D photographs taken by volunteers could be used to provide a blueprint for a replica arch.
"It is extraordinary to have a vision about something and see it come together in such a palpable way," Michel told the BBC.
He said he wanted London to be the first stop on the arch's itinerary because the city had itself been reconstructed after the Blitz of World War II.