Fig.1. A 1930s vertical photograph over the pyramid complex at Giza, Egypt, generously shared with the project by Owen Masters.

Reflections on the EAMENA aerial photograph appeal

Back in early 2017 we started trying to develop access to historic aerial photographs for the MENA region to support the work of the EAMENA project. This work was primarily driven by the need to access high-resolution imagery for The Occupied Palestinian Territories, where U.S. legislation known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment limited the resolution of contemporary commercial satellite imagery for this area. It also built on the earlier work of Professor David Kennedy’s work on our sister project, APAAME, in gathering these historic aerial photographs and our colleague Rebecca Repper’s work in digitising the Sir Aurel Stein and O.G.S. Crawford collections at the British Academy and UCL respectively.

Figure 3 Oblique aerial photograph of St Catherine’s Monastery looking north, taken by John Clubb (683 Squadron RAF) in 1951

Results from the EAMENA aerial photograph appeal: St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai (Egypt)

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.

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).

Translating EAMENA’s platform into Arabic: challenges and solutions

The EAMENA project documents endangered heritage in 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In all but Iran, Arabic is the main language spoken in these countries. Therefore, in order to enhance the value of the EAMENA database as a heritage mapping and management tool for researchers and institutions based in the MENA region, the team has prioritised translating the platform into this language.