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Russian researchers to design virtual tour of Palmyra before IS-inflicted damage

December 14, 2016, 2:42 UTC+3 St PETERSBURG

"Isolated and scattered facts on three centuries of research in the ancient city and on its current conditions will be put together on a single platform for the first time ever," a scientist said

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Palmyra

Palmyra

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

St PETERSBURG, December 14. /TASS/. Russian archeologists plan to produce some time in 2017 a virtual tour of the antique compound of monuments in Palmyra before destruction of the latter by units of the Islamic State terrorists in 2015, Dr. Natalya Solovyova, the Deputy Director of the St Petersburg-based Institute for the History of Material Culture told reporters on Tuesday.

"A virtual tour will be designed in 2017," she said. "This will be a tour of the compound as it was before the militants damaged it."

The tour will be based on the results of an aerial photographic survey that Russian topographers did during an expedition to Palmyra in September 2016. Their mission there was organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences, which the institute reports to.

Results of the survey have already made it possible to produce a 3D model of Palmyra that embraces all the surviving and damaged monuments of antiquity. The researchers will augment it with the data from previous research efforts and the attempts of restore the city’s unparalleled monuments undertaken in the 20th century.

The eventual result will come in the form of a dynamic geo-information system and geo-referenced 3D architectural models of objects.

According to Dr. Solovyova, the database that is in the offing now will reflect the results of all the previous archeological and historical studies of Palmyra and the current physical conditions of each monument.

"Each object will be furnished with a description of time, degree and character of the damage sustained in recent years," she said. "This effort is fully unique and it presumes that isolated and scattered facts on three centuries of research in the ancient city and on its current conditions will be put together on a single platform for the first time ever."

The virtual tour is part and parcel of the efforts to create the geo-information system and its designers name specialists as the prime target audience, yet it is not ruled out that it will be accessible for the general public at one of Syria’s museums after the Russian Academy of Sciences hands it over to the Syrian government.

The topographic surveying expedition visited Palmyra for the purposes of aerial photography there from September 22 through to September 26, 2016. The 3D model incorporating its results gives an opportunity already now to draw up plans for the restoration of monuments without trips to the area, which is still dangerous for archeologists and restorers.

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