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Authentic or fake news? Archaeological reconstructions of Palmyra (Syria)


Shortly after the demolition of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra (Syria) in 2015, UNESCO unfolded a plan for the rebuilding of this archaeological monument which dates to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Reconstructions of archaeological heritage can act as a powerful signal for continuity and underline the connection of a community with places of historical significance. Archaeological reconstructions are, therefore, an important tool in post-war rebuilding processes.

However, there are also disadvantages to these kind of projects. What exactly is being reconstructed and who decides? Should the money involved not be spent on other causes? And what is the scientific value of the reconstructions?

This lecture will assess the pros and cons of these reconstructions with the example of the Temple of Bel. The lecture will shed light on the plans for the rebuilding of the monumental sanctuary, as well as on several initiatives to create digital or virtual reconstructions.

Why should you not miss out on this lecture?

Reconstructions have been a controversial topic for years. Because of recent attacks and demolition of cultural heritage in the Middle East, the debate on this topic has intensified. This lecture provides an insight in this debate and enables you to form your own opinion and ideas. During the lecture you can cast your vote on a number of propositions presented by the lecturers using an app.


Dr. Lidewijde de Jong

Dr. Lidewijde de Jong is associate professor in Archaeology. She investigates the Roman Near East and how its population dealt with the coming of the Roman Empire. She has worked on excavations in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia and is currently working in Turkey.

Marc Nijboer

Marc Nijboer is a Master student Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Groningen, who is interested in the digitization of archaeology, as is done in virtual reconstructions and ‘archaeo’ gaming.

Jacqueline Röring Jacqueline Röring is a Master student Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Groningen. She is currently writing her Master’s thesis on the controversy surrounding the reconstruction of deliberately demolished heritage in Syria and Iraq, and the way to deal with this controversy.
Last modified:15 August 2019 2.50 p.m.
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