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.
Since the beginning of 2017, one of the tasks the EAMENA team have been busy working on is collating and digitising existing data from surveys and excavations in Lebanon. These are published in a variety of places and ways, ranging from, for example, synthetic overview reports, to institute newsletters and archaeological journals.
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.
Since its beginning, one of the priorities for the EAMENA team has been to design an online platform (database) to record cultural heritage sites in the Middle East and North Africa and monitor their state of preservation.
Lakshmy Venkatesh has recently graduated with a Masters in Archaeology from the University of Oxford. Before this, she attended Lady Shri Ram College for Women in New Delhi, where she received a BA in History.
We took part in a UNESCO-sponsored international round table held in the UNITAR offices in Geneva on 11 December 2015.
The scope of the round table, which included 15 participants (plus Justine Mackinnon of the Qatar Computing Research Institute via Skype conference call), was to discuss strategies for the integration of current crowdsourcing and mapping projects to aid Yemeni authorities in their efforts to monitor and assess damage to the country’s endangered cultural heritage.
One of the principal aims of EAMENA is the survey of archaeological sites for threat or disturbance through the use of satellite imagery and aerial photographs. The compilation of what archaeology or heritage is there to begin with, before we can access how it has been impacted over time, is a many-faceted process. One of my tasks at the moment is scanning for potential sites in Yemen using satellite imagery available through Google Earth. This process is complemented by knowledge of previous archaeological surveys in the region.
The purpose of the EAMENA project is not only to identify and record damage to archaeological sites but also, ultimately, to make that information available through an open-access database. With that in mind, the construction of the database has been a primary concern since the project started, and over the past few weeks in particular, the team has had several discussions, both formal and informal, about our vision for it.