Google has announced a new collaboration with the UK's Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Historic England, starting with the recreation of a historic statue lost to ISIS.
On Tuesday, the tech giant said that a 3D-printed replica of the Lion of Mosul marks the beginning of the partnership, in which IWM will have the statue on loan for its "Culture Under Attack" and "What Remains" exhibition.
The original statue once stood at the entrance of the Temple of Ishtar in Nimrud, Iraq. Having survived since an estimated 860 BCE, the statue was, unfortunately, one of many historical victims to Daesh while it was on display at the Mosul Museum.
Despite the massive Assyrian guardian having been destroyed in 2015, 3D printing has been harnessed to resurrect the beast, made possible through crowdsourced photographs of the artifact.
Rekrei, an organization dedicated to preventing the loss of cultural heritage by preserving its memory through crowdsourced photographs of monuments, museums, and artifacts, was able to reconstruct the statue digitally, giving Google the blueprint required to print the lion.
Visitors to the IWM will be able to see the 3D printed lion from July 5, 2019, to 5 January 2020. The statue can also be explored on the Google Arts & Culture online platform.
"It's been heartbreaking to see the destruction of so many unique artifacts and archeological sites in recent years, however, Culture Under Attack and the What Remains exhibition highlight the potential of technology -- both in terms of digitally preserving culture and telling these amazing stories in engaging new ways," said Chance Coughenour, Preservation Lead at Google Arts & Culture.
The statue itself can never be truly brought back, but in recent years, the use of 3D printing has proven not only innovative in the world of technology but in everything from historical preservation to fashion. However, it is not only artifacts lost to the past which can be reimagined by 3D printing, as today's modern artists are also exploring the technology for their own creations.