Reproductions like Afghanistan’s laser Buddhas are inadequate substitutes for destroyed artifacts, but they can nevertheless defy that destruction and preserve some measure of cultural patrimony. In a report on the situation in ISIS-held Mosul this week, the BBC’s Ghadi Sary told a story about leaving a reproduced sculpture of a winged bull (ISIS had destroyed the original) in his hotel room, only to later find a note on it apparently written by someone on the hotel staff: “It said, ‘My greetings to you and to whoever sculpted this. It smells of our civilization. It smells of our lost heritage.’ Signed, ‘The son of Iraq.’”
I wonder how technology will allow us to recreate what times and terror take away. I wonder, in a philosophical sense, if this is a good thing, but I have to say, I was devastated when these statues were destroyed and am happy to see them come back, even in photonic form.