With Syria in the midst of a war, human lives are not the only major losses being suffered.
Another casualty in the line of fire is history.
The civil war has not been kind to the many historical sites in the country, with the Great Mosque of Aleppo and the Al-Madina Souq already destroyed due to the warfare that surrounds these monuments.
War isn’t the only perpetrator of this crime though. Over the years, many historical sites have been damaged or completely eradicated by natural disasters as well.
To counteract this, Google has recently announced the Open Heritage Project in collaboration with organisation CyArk. Through the use of laser scanning devices, the project aims to preserve historical sites from all around the world that are under threat of being destroyed.
These 29 sites in 18 different countries currently featured range from the Brandenburg Gate in Germany to the ancient city of Ayutthaya in Thailand.
With the laser scanners of CyArk, a non-profit with the sole purpose of preserving and archiving historical sites, users will now be able to explore 3D versions of historical sites, including Ananda Oak Kyaung, a monastery in Bagan, Myanmar that is inaccessible to the public after an earthquake in 2016.
Using a virtual reality headset, users will be able to virtually walk through these sites with the help of Google’s Daydream system, a VR program run on Android devices.
Even without a headset, users will be able to look at the 3D models of these sites from all angles through the Open Heritage webpage. Users have the option to zoom in and to see the inside of these sites, using their phone or their computers.
These 3D models are all part of the digital library that CyArk has collated over the years.
So even if these ancient treasures are completely destroyed or changed, people will still be able to experience them – at least virtually – a 100 years from now.