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.
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.
As part of its aim to record episodes of heritage damage, the EAMENA team responds to reports across the MENA region, often originating via short social media statements. This is far from a simple process, and investigating the fragmentary reports is, in some cases, more complex than the original narratives would suggest.
At the beginning of October, I started my role as one of four new Part-Time Image Interpreters for the EAMENA project. One of the challenges of the project is to map heritage sites and identify potential threats to these in the vast EAMENA region
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.
The 50th Seminar for Arabian Studies (SAS) was held at the British Museum between 29–31 July 2016. This year, the conference papers concentrated primarily on the archaeology of the UAE and Oman, with a few on Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
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.
I want to consider the two extremes of endangered archaeology. On the one hand, we have the headline-grabbing destruction of part of a World Heritage Site, whilst on the other there is natural erosion and people going about their everyday lives, oblivious to what lies right under their feet (or, in this case tyres).
The two previous blog entries have looked at ways in which we at EAMENA are mapping archaeological sites, whether extant or now destroyed, by analysing satellite imagery and historical aerial photographs. With tens of thousands of sites already recorded in the span of four months across Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, these techniques are proving incredibly successful in documenting the cultural landscape of the MENA region.