Image of the Stele to Esarhaddon recorded by Alex Peck in Lebanon, working with APSAD and with Rocio da Riva of the University of Barcelona. The stele commemorates the taking of Memphis in 671 BC, one of a cluster of commemorative carvings at Nahr El Kalb, north of Beirut. The monuments at Nahr el Kalb range from 1500 BC to 2000 AD and are inscribed in UNESCO's 'Memory of the World'. The first phase of the work is document the site using a new approach we are developing to photogrammetry. The second phase is to demonstrate that this approach can capture data that is meaningful for conservation and epigraphy. During the recent visit Alex also recorded the remains of the badly deteriorated Stele to Nebudchadnezzar II; so badly decayed that it has almost become meaningless.
APSAD - Lebanon's Heritage Association - have just updated their website and prominent is the agreement signed last year with the Foundation. Plans are being made but circumstances still make it hard.
More info here.
In 2014 Factum Foundation was winner of the
Apollo Award for Digital Innovation of the year
Apollo’s new Digital Innovation of the Year award commends organisations harnessing digital technology to advance access to, or knowledge of art
To know more about the Foundation, read the book explaining the aims and work being carried out in collaboration with Factum Arte.
Nothing is new
The last Opinion piece concerned Simon Schama's article, an article he wrote in response to the still images of the wanton destruction of sculpture in Nimrud and his reflection on our own long history of such episodes.
But today we have been shocked where we thought we couldn't be - not only the human, or inhuman, stories coming out of Yarmouk refugee camp - but the footage that has just swirled around the web. The video shows initially, yes, Assyrian sculpture being destroyed with sledgehammers - but we had already been shocked by the images, still and past, done, as they were - and it was these that were the catalyst for Schama's piece.
But then, sadly, in this video we progress beyond the terrible smashing of stone to moving images of wonderful man/animal sculptures and relief carving and script story panels, gracefully, benignly filmed from outside their protective wires, placed to preserve the 3,000 year old surfaces from human intervention.
We have sadly now all seen on YouTube what comes next - the close up shots of excavators hauling carved slabs, men with powerful machine tools gleefully and with shouts of amusement slicing and toppling vast and beautiful works. But even that is not enough. We have a close up of oil drums being filled with powder and as the camera draws back we see the drums are neatly in line, standing in front of the carved friezes, connected by wires - so similar to the protective ones we had seen earlier. But these wires are not protective. They are connecting the detonators that, as we now watch, blow up with vast explosions - not just limited explosions but eruptions from underground - the sites containing the sculptures and panels we have just seen. The force throws massive rocks hundreds of feet into the sky amid the brown dust of destruction that grows like a monster over the hollow pit that once contained, wonderfully and vividly told, evidence of man's extraordinary emerging civilisation.
It's hard to write this - it's harder to think that these objects will never be seen again. What I was discussing in the last Opinion was that the destruction we had seen was nothing very new, that was Schama's thesis and it was a powerfully made argument ......what we have seen now is new.
It is new in its dreadful efficiency, in its cold but technically assisted execution. This assistance of technology makes this destruction so much more terrible - the use of technology to destroy, efficiently, where that technology can be used - and should be used - to preserve. To preserve our heritage so that we can understand where we come from and so that our children can have what we inherited so that they can too - that's what technology can do if we let it.
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