Perpetuity | Palmyra
Perpetuity | Palmyra
A virtual reality experience meant to preserve and recreate the historic Syrian site of Palmyra, which has been destroyed by ISIS.
A virtual reality experience meant to preserve and recreate the historic Syrian site of Palmyra, which has been destroyed by ISIS. Read more
In 2015, ISIS insurgents invaded the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, destroying centuries old historic sites and looting them of ancient artifacts to sell on the black market — sales which come second only to oil in the funding of their public executions and other criminal activities. During the time of the Silk Road, Palmyra stood as an oasis of multiculturalism, a meeting place for people from all around the world.
These ruins were some of the best preserved across the globe until ISIS intervened. Although they've been ousted from the region by Russian and Syrian forces, the damage they've done to such an important historic region cannot be reversed — but that doesn't mean all hope is lost.
Here at The Arc/k Project, we've made it our mission to maintain the integrity of Palmyra through the creation of an immersive virtual reality experience that would regenerate the city in its entirety. Not only are we sending a message to ISIS that their efforts to erase history have failed; we are extending this history to people around the world who will be able to experience Palmyra from the comfort of their own homes.
We have spent the last year working on the digital reconstruction of three Palmyra sites: the Roman Theatre, the Temple of Bel, and the Arch of Triumph. In order to do this, we’ve utilized a complex system of photography known as photogrammetry to rebuild the ruins in an interactive virtual reality experience. We've collected photos of Palmyra, pre-destruction, from Creative Commons sites, and were able to craft 3D models from them.
These three sites are the starting points to our larger goal: we want to expand the scope of our Palmyra sites by realizing the entire city in one VR experience. In order to achieve this, we've got a lot of work ahead of us:
- To accurately recreate these ruins, we need thousands upon thousands of reference pictures. Extra funding from this campaign would allow us to connect with more Syrians via advertising and social media in an effort to acquire more of these photos of the sites, pre-destruction, in addition to reaching out to tourists, archaeologists, and anyone who may have taken photos of Palmyra before its destruction.
- We would like to add any and all other existing sites that we have not yet created. This would enable us to capture the whole city rather than individual sites.
- We would like to recreate accurate digital versions of archaeological artifacts that have been stolen from Palmyra and sold on the black market; providing authorities with these detailed variations would assist them in identifying these items and repatriating them.
- Lastly, our most exciting idea yet: we'd like to implement educational courses on cultural preservation, the power of photogrammetry, and the importance of studying our history within the Palmyra VR experience! This would mean anywhere from five to fifty students meeting (via their respective VR goggles) at the virtual site of Palmyra.
Upon completion, we plan on extending this VR experience to digital libraries, cultural institutions in the Middle East/throughout the world, museums, and institutions of higher learning.
We are so lucky to have collaborated with the incredible sculptor, Kris Kuksi. Check out the video below to see more:
See the GIFs below for a detailed look at some of our rewards:
And take a look at our amazing rewards packages below! All reward tiers include costs for domestic shipping within the U.S. If you're ordering internationally, please choose the appropriate shipping option which accounts for extra costs!
Disclaimer: Unfortunately we cannot cover the costs of extra customs or VAT fees for international shipping.
We are, in essence, saving a critical, iconic piece of humanity and history. This idea can't be put into numbers. The full cost of rebuilding (virtually) the ancient city of Palmyra can go up to the hundreds of thousands...we are only asking for you to help us get a head start.
Since this work is highly dependent on the acquisition of past photos of Palmyra, Arc/k anticipates an approximate 18-to-24 month timeline to make Palmyra V2 a reality. We appreciate each and every single donor and will be sure to keep you updated on milestones achieved and timeline changes.
The Arc/k Project, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, digitally archives that which is too valuable, too important, and too unique to be lost or forgotten. Our mission is to preserve cultural assets around the world that are endangered due to economic development, political instability, or physical degeneration. Through the innovative use of cutting-edge technology, Arc/k’s goal is to create a digital archive capable of producing 3D recreations that will make these cultural treasures accessible to global audiences and preserve them for future generations.
To preserve our global heritage, we seek to capture and archive culturally and historically significant objects and locations via emerging modern digital formats including 3D imaging as well as the immersive technologies of augmented and virtual realities. With a goal to achieve the highest archival quality accuracy and authenticity, we are promoting the science of photogrammetry to populate the data for our digital formats. We are always looking to collaborate with like-minded individuals, museums, organizations and academic institutions to create case studies using the photogrammetry process to digitally archive and preserve objects and locations via grants or volunteer work.
As one of the most architecturally diverse historic sites in the world, the digital preservation of Palmyra is tantamount to the study of history and education for future generations. ISIS wasted no time in destroying as much as they could of the site; although they've retreated, the damage they've done is nearly irreversible. We're aiming to provide hope and inspiration for all people as they see that every individual can take an active and important role in the preservation and perpetuation of their own cultural heritage. With our VR experience, Syrians, tourists, archaeologist, scientists, and more can revisit Palmyra for generations to come.
The virtual can never take the place of the real, but the virtual can inform the real. Using technologies such as photogrammetry, 3D printing and 3D milling, we are able to provide a blueprint for future restorers of Palmyra. We have access to these tools in house every day and are committed to spending as much time as is necessary to complete this project.
Our existing Palmyra sites listed above were created solely through crowdsourced photogrammetry (we collected photos from Syrian citizens, tourists, photographers, and so on in order to create our 3D models). We chose Kickstarter because we value collaboration and want to engage the passionate and invested Kickstarter community with a project that calls for global unity.
This project has been a dream of ours for years. Now, we need your help. Kickstarter is all or nothing — if we don't reach our goal of $75,000 by the end of the campaign, we don't get anything. Even if you can't donate, we would love if you could spread the word about The Arc/k Project and Perpetuity | Palmyra.
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Find more awesome MRKT briefcases at their website.
Risks and challenges
Due to the complexity of our project, there are inevitable risks & challenges that may arise. We've thought through a few back-up plans to assure any donors and/or supporters of our commitment to seeing this through.
1. There is a potential chance that we may not be able to find enough photos that display the details of the Palmyra sites. In this case, photogrammetry assets would be supplemented by other conventional means as necessary.
2. Because of the complex process behind photogrammetry and 3D building, unforeseen additional funds may arise post-campaign. We plan on utilizing grants and assets to see this project through, even if the budget ends up higher than our original Kickstarter campaign goal.
3. Lives on the ground in Syria are always our top priority. Given the dangerous living situation there, we will never directly commission photography from citizens who may feel they are in danger, but will rather collect on a volunteer basis. To make up for this, we will be spending plenty of hours digging deep into online research sites for reference pictures.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)