Apadana Palace, Persepolis Iran. Photo copyright Andrea Zerbini.
The Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project, supported since 2015 by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and with additional support since 2017 from the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund (CPF), is led by the University of Oxford’s School of Archaeology in partnership with the Universities of Leicester and Durham. The EAMENA team use remote sensing to identify archaeological sites and record their condition in about twenty countries in the MENA region, working in collaboration with local and national heritage authorities in the partner countries.
The project has created an open access online database that already contains over 338,000 records. The EAMENA database is an instance of Arches 5, which is the latest in open-source cultural heritage documentation and storage software, designed by the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund. Many of the sites in the database are previously unrecorded but the database also includes digital copies of existing site records that have been published elsewhere. Inclusion in the EAMENA database does not indicate that an individual site is under threat; the database includes all sites in areas where EAMENA has conducted research in order to provide a full archaeological context. This is to help local heritage authorities monitor potential threats, assess the priority of individual sites and decide where to focus resources for preservation and protection. The database records not only standard archaeological data, such as chronology, type, and function, but also condition and threat assessments. This means that the database can be used for both cultural heritage management and as a major research tool for landscape and settlement analysis.
EAMENA has been training heritage professionals in eight countries, including Jordan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Libya in the in the use of its recording methodology and condition assessment of threatened archaeological sites in a programme funded by the British Council’s CPF and manged by the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Classics. Our local partners have used this training to conduct several projects, including an emergency response for cultural heritage in Beirut in the aftermath of the massive 2020 explosion, projects recording endangered sites in Tunisia, Libya, and southern Iraq, and a project recording historical houses in Amman, Jordan.
EAMENA has been supporting the antiquities authorities in Jordan and Palestine in upgrading their national heritage inventory systems and adapting an EAMENA-Arches based system.
The Maritime Endangered Archaeology project (MarEA), based in Southampton and Ulster Universities, also works closely with EAMENA, contributing directly to the EAMENA database.
Meet the Team:
Open Access Policy: