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Friday, April 1 • 13:55 - 14:20
S10-08 Digital interpretive technologies: A way into difficult heritage in the Middle East and Central Asia?

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Digital interpretive technologies: A way into difficult heritage in the Middle East and Central Asia?

Katie Campbell

Conflict, contested heritage and differing stakeholder interests have led to an increasing use of photogrammetry, remote sensing and 3D modelling techniques as the only means of recording, monitoring and interpreting historic monuments and archaeological sites across the Middle East and beyond. As a result, researchers are starting to make greater use of this digital data, for both academic and practical purposes. This paper aims to critically appraise the effect that the rapid transition from ‘traditionally’ to digitally collected field data is having both on our interpretation of these monuments and its role in informing conservation and heritage protection decisions in ‘difficult’ cases.
The Great Kyz Kala, an early Islamic architectural monument that forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Merv, in modern Turkmenistan, is a difficult monument. Not in the traditional sense that is associated with recent atrocities or ongoing tensions in the Middle East and Central Asia, but because of its iconic nature within the country and the crucial role that archaeology and historic monuments play in Turkmen narratives of a post-Soviet national identity. Discussions on how to interpret and conserve this rapidly deteriorating and enigmatic monument have been held over the last five years between various national and international organisations including UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan, and international collaborators including universities and embassies. These talks have, however, led to something of a stalemate in how to approach the monument in terms of its conservation and presentation, while academic research on the archaeology remains frustratingly limited. 
By combining qualitative feedback on the digital approach adopted by archaeologists from UCL, and a critical review of the decision-making processes behind actions at this monument, against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving political landscape in Turkmenistan, the wider consequences of this research strategy for the Great Kyz Kala will be assessed.


Dr. Sara Perry

University of York
University of York Twitter: @archaeologistsp Personal Page: http://saraperry.wordpress.com


Friday April 1, 2016 13:55 - 14:20 CEST
Domus Media, Auditorium 13

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