After the Arab Spring and the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, lots of important monuments of the Middle East and North Africa play a leading role in socio-political developments, while many ancient cities have become battlefields.
One of these cities is ancient Palmyra of central Syria. Although the city has been destroyed and plundered many times in the past, recent damage to monuments, due to war conflicts, and in particular, Islamic State’s planned raids of 2015, have provoked international outrage.
Western states and global organizations lead the rescue campaigns of the city, in order to stop the desecration of civilization. They promise the erection of the city, by using 3D printing technologies. The transfer of the city to the digital world makes it immortal and impossible to be desecrated.
However, the definition of the word desecrateis not only violate and defile a sacred place, making it, again, available for human use. According to another definition, it also means the opposite.
In the name of knowledge, science development and cultural rescue, ancient Palmyra is subject to constant modifications, in order to embody the hegemonic symbolism of Western superiority. The city turns into an “image” and it acquires sacred character. Now, the real city is one of its thousand representations.
Selective preservation of the past by the West through strategic intervention in monumental architecture leads to the production of a factitious historical narrative and an iconic culture, into the notion that it is both fictitious and virtual.
The impressive three-dimensional replicas of the city's monuments re-establish superficially the lost values of Western civilization, which were broke down by the war, and help to open new trade routes by the former colonial states.
Both the videos of the disaster of Palmyra and the images of the reconstruction prove the virtual dimension of civilization, and are the two facets of desecration.