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Russian Hermitage planning to sign agreement to restore ancient city of Palmyra’s museum

Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky said earlier that hat it might take up to two years to restore the museum after the works begin
State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg  Piotr Kovalev/TASS
State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg
© Piotr Kovalev/TASS

TULA, September 27. /TASS/. The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is planning to sign an agreement with Syria this November to restore the museum of the ancient city of Palmyra and train Syrian restoration artists, Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky told TASS on Friday.

"Currently, the text [of the document] is being agreed. Our proposition is to take part in restoring the Palmyra museum because it need to be restores, the museum means jobs, it attracts tourists and so on," the director said. He also pointed out that Hermitage experts are willing to organize master classes for Syrian restoration artists. At the same time, modern technologies are planned to be widely used. "Our colleagues, Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for the History of Material Culture architects and archeologists, prepared a virtual model reconstructing Palmyra as it was before its first, second and third destructions. There is also highly precise 3D footage, it will be further detailed now and both will be presented to the Palmyra museum as a gift," he said.

In August, Piotrovsky shared an opinion that it will take up to two years to restore the museum after the works begin, following talks with Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums leadership.

Mahmoud Hammoud, the agency executive, also told TSS that an agreement would be signed in November on cooperation, which would include training of Syrian restoration and archeology experts apart from the museum’s restoration.

World Heritage Site

The ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, often referred to as the Bride of the Syrian Desert, was an important hub along ancient trade routes, particularly the Great Silk Road, in Western Asia. Its heyday encompassed the 1st-3rd centuries AD, when a number of architectural monuments were built in the city, which have been preserved in the desert up to this day.

UNESCO placed Palmyra on its list of world cultural heritage sites. The militants who controlled Palmyra from May 2015 through March 2016 and from December 2016 through March 2017 destroyed a number of monuments there.

The devastation prompted Russian restoration artists form the Hermitage Museum and other agencies to join the work to collect materials and data on the condition of the World Heritage Site.

In September 2016, after Syrian government forces had liberated the city, a Russian expert team, headed by the Institute’s Deputy Director Natalya Solovyova, went to Palmyra in September 2016 in order to record the scale of the destruction, take photos and create a 3D model of the complex. The 3D model of Palmyra was created based on photos taken by archeologists from the Institute for the History of Material Culture at the Russian Academy of Sciences and the State Hermitage Museum.

It took Russian experts about a year to create the model, which currently presents the most complete and up-to-date information about the city’s condition.

This year, Russian archeologists are planning to record more footage of the treasured monuments in Palmyra to update the 3D model.