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Palmyra Arch Of Triumph Replica Unveiled In London's Trafalgar Square

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The ancient Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, Syria, was destroyed by ISIS last year. At the time, the U.N. called it a crime against civilization. Today in London, Mayor Boris Johnson unveiled a replica of the Arch in Trafalgar Square.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BORIS JOHNSON: Ladies and gentlemen, the proud Arch of Palmyra - three, two, one.

(APPLAUSE)

MCEVERS: The replica of the Arch stands 20-feet tall. That's about two-thirds the size of the original, and it's made of Egyptian marble.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Oxford's Institute for Digital Archaeology led the project. Roger Michel is the Institute's executive director. And earlier this month, he told NPR that the structure unveiled today was based on digital blueprints of ancient sites.

ROGER MICHEL: We have been collecting over the last two years a vast digital archive of both 3-D and 2-D images of sites throughout the Middle East in conflict zones, sites that we had identified as being at risk.

SIEGEL: Michel's team used a digital scan of the 1,800-year-old arch to guide the cutting with 3-D technology. He says they want to use technology to disempower ISIS and show that restoration of the ancient site is possible.

MCEVERS: A crowd of locals and tourists in London came out to see the replica today in Trafalgar Square.

TOM CRONIN: Slightly smaller than I thought it was going to be.

SARAH DAY: Well, they've obviously done it very realistically, all the weathering as well.

PAULINE PERRY: The detail is amazing. It looks quite delicate.

DHWIREN PATEL: Well, I'm never going to go to Syria, so this is like a part of Syria in London.

CRISTINA CERINA: Well, I think it's great that now we have the possibility to build back what has been destroyed.

MCEVERS: That was Cristina Cerina, and before that, Dhwiren Patel, Pauline Perry, Sarah Day, and Tom Cronin.

SIEGEL: The replica will stay in London through Thursday before traveling to Dubai and New York. The Syrian government took back control of Palmyra last March. Authorities there say they plan to restore the Arch in the city where it once stood. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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