EAMENA, UNESCO, and Yemeni authorities collaborate to build a national digital database to monitor Yemen’s rich heritage landscapes
Following a successful grant increase bid earlier this month to the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund (CPF), the Endangered Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) Project will now embark on the construction of a digital heritage management platform to help support the vital work of Yemen’s national authorities.
I first visited Jordan in 2006 as the Landscape Archaeologist for the Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP, n.d.). Over nine seasons, this project investigated the archaeology of the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918 and discovered extensive Ottoman militarisation of a landscape built to defend the Hejaz Railway against attacks from the Hashemite Arab Army and British forces (Saunders 2018).
Ground visits are extremely useful, and can be used to validate and check that the interpretations we had made based on remote sensing imagery are correct. For the eight archaeological sites we visited, we could confirm that they are indeed archaeological sites, and that the features we had identified through remote sensing were also correct
In May 2017, the EAMENA project launched an appeal for historical aerial photographs to aid the team in the identification of archaeological sites and possible factors threatening them. A subsequent post on the same appeal in the Royal Air Force Association magazine Air Mail led to a number of responses, including one from John Clubb, a former navigator in 683 Squadron RAF.
We spend a lot of time talking about how we can record and protect archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa, but in this blog post I want to present a different approach that we have been experimenting with during an archaeological survey project in the Wadi Draa, Morocco.
The UCL Institute of Archaeology Air Survey Photographs: an archaeological reference collection of Royal Air Force aerial imagery from 1918–1939
The UCL Institute of Archaeology Collections Air Survey photographs comprise a series of glass plate negatives, cellulose negatives, safety negatives, and prints of Royal Air Force (RAF) aerial photographs taken between 1918 and 1939. The photographs are predominantly of Iraq, the former Transjordan, Egypt, and Sudan (see distribution map).
In the EAMENA Project, most of the time we see the world from above, through satellite imagery or aerial photographs. These are very informative and, moreover, a quick way to examine and assess large areas of the landscape. However, there are some things that we simply cannot see from above.