Members of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. attempted to destroy ancient Syrian statues and sculptures in an effort to completely erase any traces of the nation’s previous history. However, 3D printing has enabled engineers with the ability to restore these broken artifacts.

Many historical artifacts from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra were destroyed when ISIS overtook took the region in 2015. However, Russian and Syrian forces were able to retake the ancient outpost for a brief period of time. Upon this happening, the remnants of these broken artifacts were collected and sent to Italy, where a team of expert technicians have restored them with 3D printing & scanning technology.

Over the past 2 months, this team of experts were able to 3D scan the broken faces of two specific figures. After collecting the data with the 3D scanners, they were able to create resin replacement parts with 3D printers. This replacement part is essentially a prosthetic part for the statue, coated with a fine layer of dust to match the original stone. The parts are attached with six magnets, making them removable in case of the broken pieces ever being recovered.

The inspiration behind restoring these artifacts is credited to Khaled al-Asaad, the keeper of these aniquities. The 82-year-old was beheaded by ISIS after refusing to give up the location of where he had hid the statues for safekeeping. Gisella Capponi, the director of the Italian Institute for Conservation and Restoration which was tasked with the restoration provides, “it was a great honour for us to be able to restore such extraordinary artifacts, which were so brutally damaged by Isis.”

Although Palmyra has since been recaptured by ISIS, these antiquities will be returned to their native Syria at the end of the month. They will be kept in Damascus until ISIS is once again driven out of Palmyra, and the site is deemed safe again. The damages inflicted upon the museum of the ancient city of Palmyra were massive, but the revival of these statues through the use of 3D scanning & printing technologies has provided hope to many that the site may one day be restored. Last week, Syrian government forces began a new offensive focused on retaking the ancient city. They have now advanced to almost 10 miles of the museum’s location.