Preserving Cultural Heritage at risk and Sustainable Development in Jordan
Leeds researchers are leading an international collaboration to develop new approaches to global challenges of preserving Heritage at risk and boosting economic and sustainable development in Jordan.
The project is funded by the Newton Khalidi Fund and The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The £725m investment will support projects up to 2021 and it aims to promote the economic development and social welfare of official development assistance (ODA) partner countries to address the wellbeing of communities. It will do so through strengthening partner country science and innovation capacity and unlocking further funding to support this work.
Collaborative research project
Dr Gehan Selim from the School of Civil Engineering and Dr He Wang from the School of Computing will lead a new interdisciplinary research project ‘The Living Museum: Sustainable preservation, analysis and virtual reconstruction of Gadara's ancient site and village’. The project is an international collaboration co-led with Jordan University of Science and Technology. This project will widely support collaboration between the UK and Jordan, working with one of the registered UNESCO World Heritage sites (Umm Qais), specialised Architecture and Heritage Institutions, archaeologists, historians, and cutting-edge creative technology research centres.
Dr Selim (Principal Investigator at Leeds - Architecture) says, “The interdisciplinary team of academics and professionals brings pioneering scientific research and innovative methods into using digital and virtual heritage technologies to record and preserve an endangered and multi-layered heritage site of Umm Qais.
“The outputs will focus on ways to enhance the local community’s socio-cultural engagement with the site through skills development and capacity building in digital heritage and tourism enterprise, with the ultimate aim to raise the profile of the site and brand it as economically sustainable. Disseminating the site’s archaeological features and historical significance to the local, national and international tourism community in Jordan will become a catalyst for ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’ (UN SDG 8).”
Through the use of the state-of-the-art virtual technologies, the team will record archaeological evidence in 3D format to produce relevant archived layers of history and interactive modelling which will support informing sustainable preservation strategies, planning and action plan. The project will re-engage the local community in a series of skill training and capacity-building workshops aiming at up-scaling their skills towards using advanced media technologies in recording and preserving both the tangible and intangible heritage of the site. This careful and inclusive-approach will support a range of social and economic enterprises and start-ups in the field of tourism and virtual reality tours.
The interdisciplinary team of academics and professionals brings pioneering scientific research and innovative methods into using digital and virtual heritage technologies to record and preserve an endangered and multi-layered heritage site of Umm Qais.
The project builds on new partnerships with the Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Global Heritage at Nottingham Trent University and Durham University, both high profile academic institutions in the field of Virtual Reality and Digital Heritage in the UK. The project also collaborates with the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), an international research institute that supports, conducts and promotes humanities and social science scholarship in the Levant, as well as the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities - Department of Antiquities in Jordan and The Jordan Museum. Local communities, schools, stakeholders will also contribute to the co-curation of digital Virtual Reality outputs, which will activate the social enterprise sector as an advocacy for the site’s sustainable heritage development by developing new community-engagement platforms to facilitate public-engagement workshops, dissemination activities and exhibitions for public users.
The project is timely, responding to the growing international concerns about the threats that modern society poses to cultural heritage. This heritage is essential not only for enabling societies to connect with their histories and traditions but as a critical driver of growth, employment and prosperity. At the same time, there is an urgent need to enhance understandings about the role of culture and memory in building social cohesion and the fact that people still have living memories of the site, yet recognising that new forms of technology could be used to transform the public understanding of the past.
- Contact Dr Selim