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Help Fight ISIS by Rebuilding Palmyra in 3D

#FREEBASSEL and an initiative to virtually rebuild the ancient city of Palmyra.
All images courtesy of #NEWPALMYRA project

The sad truth is that it's probably too late to fully enjoy the gems of the ancient Semitic city of Palmyra. But with a little luck—and your support—the #NEWPALMYRA project will rebuild the precious monuments that have been destroyed by ISIL and years of conflict.

Initiated by the wrongly jailed, Damacus-based technologist, software developer, and key actor in the Creative Commons community, Bassel Khartabil, the project aims to provoke conscious awareness and respect for world heritage and to conserve Palmyra’s architectural treasures. “Bassel started working with a group in Syria around 2005 to virtually reconstruct Palmyra to preserve its cultural heritage,” #NEWPALMYRA interim director, Barry Threw, tells The Creators Project. “The project continued for several years but was put aside when Bassel was detained by the Syrian government in 2012 during the initial periods of civil unrest,” he adds.


Temple of Bel 3D model rendering

Temple of Bel 3-D model renderings

Lately, a group of activists including Threw, Joi Ito, Jon Phillips, Amr Al Azm, Morehshin Allahyari, Jeffrey Shaw, Oussama Jarrousse, Sultan Al Qassemi, and Naut Humon—to name but a few—teamed up to enhance the initiative by picking up the torch and moving forward with the tremendous project. “We are reviving the project both to bring a spotlight to Bassel's continued unlawful imprisonment, and to combat the cultural genocide being perpetrated by the Islamic State with a positive gesture of community building and creativity,” says Threw.

Temple of Bel augmented

Striving above all for an open-sourced and collaborative creative process and free access to culture, the team unveiled a new online community platform and data repository dedicated to the capture, preservation, sharing, and creative reuse of data about Palmyra. In order to bring the project to the next step, the team launched an international open call to put this data together, and to code and create content that will not only lead to the digital recreation of the city, but also to provide generations to come with material for art exhibitions, salons, and new creative works. “This is a community project, and the process is completely open. All models and other content we release will be under a Creative Commons Zero license, completely in the public domain,” Threw explains. “The most challenging thing about #NEWPALMYRA is the extreme urgency we are under; Syrian history is being actively deleted, and our friend Bassel has been missing, under control of the Syrian government, for weeks. We need the community to get involved and develop this project to light a candle against this darkness,” he concludes.


Bassel, Barry, and Jon

Barry discussing the project at Protocultural Paris

Temple of Bel 3-D model rendering

Temple of Bel 3D model rendering

If you want to learn more about the project and want to contribute, head to the #NEWPALMYRA’s website. Please take the time to become aware about the campaign to bring about the safe and immediate release of Bassel Khartabil. #FREEBASSEL


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