Priceless stone sculptures that were smashed with hammers by Islamic State extremists in the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra have been meticulously restored by Italian experts with the help of laser scans and 3D printers.
The 2nd century AD funerary busts – one of a man, the other of a woman – were vandalised by Isis terrorists after they overran the archeological site and its museum in 2015.
When the ancient desert outpost was retaken by Syrian and Russian forces, the artefacts were whisked to safety in Beirut.
They were then sent to Rome, where for the past two months experts have harnessed Italy’s formidable cultural heritage expertise to repair the damage.
Technicians used lasers to scan the shattered faces of the two figures and then sophisticated 3D printers to create resin parts that replaced the bits of stone that were lost during Isis’ rampage. The male figure was particularly badly smashed, with half its face missing.
Experts in Rome produced a “prosthetic” for the side of the face that was lost. It is removable, so that if the original stone fragment is ever found, it can be reattached. The prosthetic attaches to the stone bust with the help of six tiny magnets.