Destroyed Palmyra Triumphal Arch Reproduction Unveiled In Trafalgar Square

The Institute of Digital Archaeology will unveil their Vertex Modelled 3D reproduction of the destroyed Triumphal Arch at Palmyra in Syria.The event is to highlight the plight of the destruction of heritage sights by Islamic State. The installation in Trafalgar Square, London is a 1:1 replica of this important monument. It will be unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson at 1PM and will be on public display until 20th of April 2016.

Vertex Modelling, creators of the 3D model of London, was approached by Institute of Digital Archaeology with a commission to create 3D model of the destroyed Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch for planned installation in Trafalgar Square, London. The brief of this commission was to capture all possible detail visible on historical photographs of this site, including signs of passing of time and weathering. This project was only possible thanks to Vertex Modelling having over 10 years of experience in photogrammetry and remote sensing with highly competent team of 3D Modellers and digital sculptors.

“Working with a variety of historical photographs taken by cameras of unknown lens distortion was certainly challenging,” says Michal Konicek form Vertex Modelling. “When working with terrestrial photogrammetry, the ideal is to have calibrated cameras and secondary measurements. As for various reasons this was not possible for this site, we had to revert to a fusion of technology and artistic skills of our employees to achieve the required level of accuracy and detail.”

The first part of the process was to create the arch. Digital sculptor Eder de Souza began modelling a basic shape in Maya and then sent the model to ZBrush where he began sculpting in the decoration, damage and textured the model by digital painting. When this was finished, the original high poly model was decimated to low poly and then Eder created UVs, normal maps and texture and applied them back to this low poly mesh for visualisation in Sketchfab.

The model that will be displayed in Trafalgar Square is a direct derivative of the model captured by Vertex Modelling. In order for the model to be translated into stone, it needed to be converted into an engineering structure by number of post-processes to end with solid 3D Model. Finally the model needed to be tweaked in order to separate the model into blocks and a final check was done to verify that all of the surface texture was defined in such a way that it was compatible with the manufacturing technique.

“To work on the Palmyra Arche was truly rewarding and it represented welcome change from our day-to-day work of capturing 3D Models of cities,” says Eder De Souza, 3D Modeller at Vertex Modelling. “I had lots of experience but I still had to improve my skills in digital sculpting for this project. As the idea was to either 3D print or mill this monument in real 1:1 scale I had to really step up here. I am very pleased with the way this replica turned out.”


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