Digital Reconstruction of the Menorah on the Arch of Titus

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Dr. Steven Fine, who heads Yeshiva University’s Center for Israel Studies, is leading a project to digitally reconstruct the Arch of Titus in Rome, complete with the colors that were originally on the monument. The project is starting with the menorah, part of the Temple treasures that were taken away when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.

Earlier this month, a Yeshiva University-led team of international historians and scientists descended upon the first-century Arch of Titus in Rome’s city center. Equipped with cameras and high-tech 3-D scanners, they looked for traces of color on one of the marble arch’s three iconic, 1,900-year-old bas reliefs – the famous depiction of Roman soldiers carrying the seven-branched, solid-gold Temple Menorah, the Table of the Showbread, and Temple Trumpets, following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. in a triumphal procession through Rome….

 “Technological breakthroughs in the last 10 years have allowed us to do two things,” says Dr. Bernard D. Frischer, the project’s co-director for technology and a professor of art history and classics at the University of Virginia. “To find more color that is not visible to the naked eye, and do it in a way that is non-invasive, that does not require that we take physical samples from the monument.”….

With the on-site survey of the Menorah relief completed, experts are now using the scans to create a 3-D “state” model of the relief as it appears today, while a professional restorer digitally “reconstructs” the relief’s broken or missing pieces. Once the tests for color traces are analyzed, the relief will be digitally “painted” in what experts believe was its original color. Both Fine and Frischer expressed the hope that the $8,000 pilot project’s test results will warrant a full-scale study of the entire arch in the near future.

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