Digitisation of northern Thai manuscripts (Thailand)

Thanks to the digitisation of northern Thai manuscripts as part of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, valuable historical documents have been preserved and made available to the public via the internet.

 

The cultural and literary traditions of northern Thailand have made an essential contribution to the development of related cultures throughout the region. However, northern Thailand’s rich manuscript collections have remained severely under-researched due to a lack of accessibility. The database of northern Thai literature is therefore an important milestone in efforts to preserve Thailand’s cultural heritage. The texts, which span more than 500 years, address cultural and local traditions, astrology, mythology, legal interpretations, social relations and everyday life; they are not only part of the country’s cultural heritage, but also strengthen the Thai people’s cultural identity.

The Federal Foreign Office already between 1987 and 1992 supported the creation of a microfilm record of northern Thai manuscripts. This microfilm collection was later digitised with funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme. Since March 2016 it is publicly available on the internet, free of charge. In 2017, selected manuscripts from 22 temples in Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao and Chiang Rai were directly digitised, thereby completing the online collection.

The manuscripts are being digitised in northern Thailand by a photographer and a handwriting expert. Their work is supported by local volunteers and supervised by the project leader and the technical coordinator. All work is performed directly at each temple, in coordination with the local abbot. Once the digitisation is completed, each manuscript is carefully wrapped in its piece of cloth and returned to where it was originally stored.

Historic palm leaf manuscripts at Wat Pa Sak Noi Temple in Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand | © David Wharton
 

Just prior to being photographed, each manuscript is cleaned and examined. Some leaves are wiped with high-grade alcohol to make them more easily readable. The project staff and local monks involved in the project are offered training to show them how to properly clean and arrange the individual palm leaves.

A digital single-lens reflex camera is highly portable and takes high-quality photos that can be archived and viewed on the internet. The photos are later added to the Digital Library of Northern Thai Manuscripts, along with the respective inventory data in English and Thai.

To round out the manuscript website, photos are uploaded of temples, libraries, manuscript boxes, scribes and the direct digitisation process.

 

Image: A manuscript at Wat Pa Sak Noi Temple | © 2015 David Wharton, Digital Library of Northern Thai Manuscripts

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 

 

 

 

 

Restoration of the National Museum in Cherchell (Algeria)

The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) has been involved in refurbishing the National Archaeological Museum in Cherchell since 2008 using funding from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office.

 

As the seat of the Kings of Mauritania and the provincial capital in Roman times, Cherchell was home to flourishing culture stretching into the late Antique period. This cultural heyday is reflected in the impressive buildings and lavish embellishments dotted around the city in the form of magnificent statues and colourful mosaics. The museum, a listed building which opened in the early 20th century, was given the title of National Museum by the Algerian Culture Ministry in 2009. It is well known for the high artistic quality of its collection of some 400 sculptures dating back to the Monarchy and Roman Imperial era, a collection which is unique in northern Africa.
The German Archaeological Institute has been involved in work on the museum since 2008 using funding from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office.

The aim is to complete the museum’s permanent exhibition. Alongside work to restore mosaics and sculptures together with Algerian staff, displays for the sculptures which were damaged during earthquakes in the 1980s have now been made earthquake-proof. The project is at the same time designed to heighten the local population’s interest in the museum significantly but also to increase the number of people visiting the museum itself and the museum website.

 

The facade of the museum| © DAI, Ralf Bockmann.
 

Following a decision taken jointly with the museum, the signs in the individual rooms as well as on all the exhibits are now in both French and Arabic. Other languages are to be available using QR codes. The educational concept was drawn up giving due consideration to the interests of the local population. Alongside the classic exhibition concept, the museum is to be open to virtual visitors via the internet.

Alongside basic and further training for regional specialists in statue restoration and display, the museum’s educational concept was also enhanced. As a result, the level of competence has increased both regarding the exhibits themselves and their historical and cultural importance as part of Algeria’s culture heritage.

The project is being implemented in close cooperation between the Cherchell National Archaeological Museum, the Ministry of Culture in Algiers and the Roman Department of the German Archaeological Institute.

 

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Image: The refurbished Museum Gallery | © DAI, Ulla Kreilinger.

Conservation work on the temples at Bagan (Myanmar)

Thanks to the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the temples of Bagan, an important cultural heritage site and tourist attraction, are being preserved, both as important testimony to the culture of Myanmar and for the benefit of future generations. In August 2016, a severe earthquake damaged a number of the temples in the former royal city of Bagan. Funding provided by the Cultural Preservation Programme is enabling the reconstruction and conservation of the ancient temples.

During a preparatory trip in May 2017, the two German conservation experts Prof. Hans Leisen and Dr Esther von Plehwe Leisen, along with the German conservator restorer Andrea Teufel and in coordination with the Myanmar Department of Archaeology (DoA), determined which two temples the restoration work would focus on.
The damage has meanwhile been examined and analysed. Conservator restorers are being trained at both temples, and conservation work is underway. All measures are closely coordinated with the Department of Archaeology and carried out in cooperation with the Myanmar conservation team.

The Nanpaya sandstone temple is where stone conservation training is conducted by the Department of Archaeology, as well as where sample conservation work based on scientific research is done to protect against weather damage. In addition to preserving valuable decorations, the cultural preservation project gives DoA staff the opportunity to independently plan and properly carry out conservation work. Now that the samples taken in 2017 have been examined, and the required conservation material, tools and equipment procured, an initial on site campaign is being launched in 2018.

In addition to developing a conservation strategy, the project focuses on conducting conservation workshops with DoA staff on natural stone, documentation and investigation techniques, as well as the properties and production of conservation products.

 

Until now, no scientific strategy had been developed to ensure long‑term conservation and restoration of the murals. This project aims to do just that | © Andrea Teufel.
 

Like many other temples at Bagan, the interior walls of Narathihapatae Hpaya Temple (formerly Tayok Pye) are covered with ancient murals. Bagan is a unique cultural heritage site in terms of the concentration, number and quality of its ancient murals, which are between 400 and 900 years old. Although some have been lost, a great number have survived. Because there has been damage due to previous faulty renovation, better and more systematic conservation and restoration work is urgently needed.

To develop a scientific, long term and non damaging method for conserving the murals, samples were taken in 2017. The original materials and techniques were analysed, and different cleaning and conservation methods were tested on the samples and the results evaluated. In 2018, the conservation methods developed through these tests are being reconfirmed and further developed on site in Bagan, and sample areas are being prepared for the conservation and restoration effort. A key aim of the project is to provide basic and further training to the Myanmar staff in Bagan.

The Federal Foreign Office’s on site conservation and training programmes in Bagan promote scientific cooperation with Myanmar. By providing basic and further training to the Myanmar conservation team, the transfer of know how and sustainability is ensured.

 

Read more: The Golden Letter (Myanmar)

 

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 

 

Image: Narathihapatae Hpaya Temple (formerly Tayok Pye) is one of some 400 sacred buildings in Bagan with extant murals. © Andrea Teufel

Pergamon Resurrected! – New Exhibition on the 3D Reconstructions of an antique city (Turkey)

The exhibition “Pergamon Wiederbelebt! ” is shown from April 21 – July 15 2018 in Leipzig and presents 3D reconstructions of the ancient city of Pergamon. The official opening takes place on April 19 at 7 pm.

The focus of the exhibition in the Antikenmuseum der Universität Leipzig is on a new virtual 3D reconstruction of the antique city of Pergamon. The reconstruction was developed by the Chair of Design, Building Theory and Interior Design at the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg in cooperation with the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). The exhibition presents a modern, vivid image of antique city spaces to the visitors. At the same time, the displays invite the observer to reflect on his own urban environment. The city of Pergamon is located on the west coast of Turkey. As the center of the Hellenistic dynasty of the Attalids and as a Roman metropolis, Pergamon was one of the most prominent urban centers of the ancient world. Since 130 years archaeologists, led by the DAI, have investigated the urban structures of Pergamon as well as the necropolis and the surrounding area of the city.

Pergamon resurrected!

Different reconstructions, going back to the beginning of the excavations in Pergamon, are at display, resurrecting the ruins of the ancient city. The reconstructions help to gain a better understanding for antique architecture and its relationship to manmade living spaces and natural areas. At the beginning of the visit a film installation of the new 3D visualization of Pergamon illustrates the urban environment. A virtual tour leading to the Acropolis visualizes the urban organism of the city. The exhibition then focusses on central urban areas, where people used to live and work. The show also presents the archaeological research and scientific documents on which the reconstructions are based.

In conclusion, the exhibition aims to promote different media of visualization of ancient architecture. In addition to older drawings of single buildings, a print of the 360 ° panorama of the artist and architect Yadegar Asisi is shown. Reconstructions are not only important as a tool for visualization and as an instrument to collect further knowledge, but they also serve as a digital preservation of valuable cultural heritage.

 

When: 21. April – 15. Juli 2018, opened tuesday thursday, saturday and sunday (12-5 pm).

Where: Aula der Alten Nikolaischule, Nikolaikirchhof 2, 04109 Leipzig.

Entry fee: 3 euro, 1.50 euro (reduced)

Mare Nostrum-Project: Cultural Center in Umm al Jimal (Jordan)

Considering the massive destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East, as well as the refugee movements, the Gerda Henkel Foundation set up a “temporary funding priority for endangered and fled scientists from crisis areas” in autumn 2015. In spring of 2016, an “emergency aid program for Syria” was added. Aim of the initiatives: to give scientists the opportunity to continue their research and to initiate archaeological and historical projects in Syria and neighboring countries, involving local actors.

One of the first funding measures was the support of the “Mare Nostrum” project – a network of several independent subprojects in Jordan. The country has received a large number of Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in huge camps as well as in cities and towns. The archaeologist Prof. Dr. Thomas Maria Weber-Karyotakis (German Jordanian University, Amman) developed the project and took over the coordination. The idea behind “Mare Nostrum” was to involve Jordanian and Syrian scientists, craftsmen and workers from the Palestinian and Syrian refugee camps, Jordanian and Syrian students from the Amman universities and the local population alike.

In the northern municipality of Umm al-Jimal, a cultural center for Syrian and Jordanian children and teenager was established in close cooperation with the local women’s cooperative. The aim of the three-month courses for about 20 girls and boys was to teach the participants and their parents, cultural and historical traditions as well as the importance of the cultural heritage. The courses were given jointly by a Jordanian and a Syrian scientist in Arabic.

 

Source: Gerda Henkell Stiftung (Press release)

Image: Children and teenager of the cultural center holding their certificates (© Thomas M. Weber-Karyotakis)

Uruk

Preserving architecture in the World Cultural Heritage site of Uruk (Iraq)

The German Archaeological Institute project presented here is supported by the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office. It helps to preserve architecture in Uruk, facilitates the protection of outstanding monuments and improves tourism infrastructure.

 

Parts of the highly diverse and outstanding cultural heritage in Iraq have been destroyed as a result of war and political instability. The archaeological site of Uruk is one of the most important ruined cities in Iraq in terms of cultural history.

As far as is currently known, the ancient Near Eastern city was the birthplace of major developments in the history of humankind around 4500 B.C. In 2016, Uruk and other sites in southern Iraq were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as “The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities”. The German Archaeological Institute has led excavations in Uruk since 1954 and also carries out conservation measures.

The German Archaeological Institute project presented here is supported by the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office. It helps to preserve architecture in Uruk, facilitates the protection of outstanding monuments and improves tourism infrastructure. The aim is to establish local structures to preserve archaeological sites in line with UNESCO standards and to guide the process involving the key excavation site in order to strengthen cultural identity among the population.

Young Iraqi academics and the local population are specifically included in the planning and preservation, so that they will be able to carry out the work that will repeatedly be needed to conserve archaeological architecture in the future.

Examining damage and planning conservation measures at the Gareus Temple (second century B.C.)© M. van Ess, DAI
 

The focus is on drawing up a detailed conservation plan for endangered archaeological buildings that will become increasingly important tourist destinations in the future. These buildings are made of brick, mud brick, rammed clay, chalk stone and cast stone. Some of them are in good condition and can be shown to the public.

In such cases, conservation work is particularly important as regards halting decay in parts of the building that have already been excavated. Conservation concepts adapted to the buildings’ location in the site are often needed.

In these cases, a decision must be made on whether it is better to present the original structure or to develop alternative concepts (such as a 3D presentation). Conservation projects involving archaeological monumental architecture and its subsequent preservation create apprenticeships and jobs in the cultural sector and are also a prerequisite for further planning in the tourism sector, which could develop into a significant source of revenue for the region.

This cultural preservation project fosters collaboration between German and Iraqi experts and the inclusion of young Iraqi archaeologists. It is linked to the work of the Archaeological Heritage Network (ArcHerNet) and the further training course, Iraqi-German Expert Forum on Cultural Heritage, as part of the German Archaeological Institute project, Stunde Null – A Future for the Time after the Crisis.

 

Read more:

Visualisation of White Temple in Uruk (Irak)

 

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

 

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 

 

 

 

Image: Ground salts are destroying the famous stone building dating from around 4500 B.C. at the foot of the Anu Ziggurat. The aim of the first emergency conservation measures is to make the walls more stable. © M. van Ess, DAI

Visualisation of White Temple in Uruk (Irak)

The “White Temple” of Uruk dates into the 4th mill. BCE and was visualized on behalf of the German Archaeological Institute by Artefacts Berlin.

 

A Uruk/Warka, situated in modern-day Iraq, is one of the first cities in the world and was populated almost without interruption for over 5,000 years. In the western area of the city centre a multiple-phased terrace was discovered, the so-called “Anu Ziggurat”. The terrace was extended and raised over time at least ten times until it reached a height of about 12 m.

This last construction level featured a polygonal shape, due to its many re­confi­gu­rations, sloped outer walls as well as a complicated staircase. The surface area of the terrace measured about 45 x 50 m. The remains of an elaborated middle-hall-building, the so-called “White Temple”, were found on top of the terrace. The building had white plastered walls, which were divided by niches, multiple postaments, maybe shelves in an adjacent room as well as multiple staircases, which led to the roof or to a second storey. The erection of the building was radiocarbon-dated between 3517 and 3358 BCE.

 

Inside view of the two-storey version of the “White Temple”. A postament in the centre was probably used as an altar.

 

In the process of the reconstruction the team of Artefacts Berlin decided for two alter­na­tives: a one-storey and a two-storey version. The reconstructions are based on the excavation results, but also on a small temple model made from stone that was found in a corner of the “White Temple” during the excavation. The proportions and wall deco­ra­tions of the reconstruction were adopted from this model which had nearly the same ground plan as the actual building.

Detailed view of the two-storey version of the “White Temple” on top of the ground plan

 

 

Source:  Artefacts Berlin

Image: General view on the “White Temple” | © artefacts-berlin

Palaces of Mustang will be restored (Nepal)

Within the next years three medieval palaces in the former kingdom of Mustang in Nepal will be documented and restored. The World Heritage site was partly destroyed by earthquakes in 2015.

Lo Manthang, the capital of the former kingdom of Mustang in present-day Nepal, has been on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage List since 2008. Mustang was an independent kingdom until 1950. It was founded in 1440 by its first ruler King Amepal (1388-1440). In addition to the temples and monasteries, the royal palaces (Darbar) of Mustang are an important part of the regional architecture. Like the monasteries, they reflect the economic and cultural heyday of the region in the 15th and 16th centuries.

In terms of cultural history, the palaces of the kings of Mustang in the region constitute an important architectural group and are impressive examples of 15th-century architecture. Not least owing to the earthquake in 2015, several of the region’s palace complexes are severely damaged. A research project headed by Prof. Ulrike Wulf-Rheidt (German Archaeological Institute Berlin) and Dr. Susanne von der Heide (HimalAsia Foundation Kathmandu, Nepal) aims to document and repair three especially threatened palaces, namely those in Gemi, Dhagmar and Thingkar.

 

Dhagmar, palace complex | © DAI.

 

The Gerda Henkel Foundation is supporting the project in the context of its funding initiative “Patrimonies”, in which it seeks to make a contribution to preserving cultural heritage above all in crisis regions. Following the 2015 earthquake, the Foundation announced a Nepal initiative together with the German Federal Foreign Office. Since then, in addition to humanitarian aid for the population, measures have been implemented to reconstruct significant buildings.

 

 

The research team on the roof of the palace of Lo Manthang, 2016 | © DAI

 

 

Image: Sanctuary in the palace of Ghemi | © DAI

Source: Press release Gerda Henkel Stiftung

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Digital Archive of Friedrich W. Hinkel (Sudan)

The archive of Friedrich W. Hinkel represents one of the largest collections of research materials concerning the archaeology of the Ancient Sudan. Thousands of photographs, slides, maps and drawings are the invaluable legacy, documenting the cultural heritage of Sudan.

It is the result of Dr. Hinkel’s (1925 – 2007) over 40 years of continued research, beginning with his participation in the Humboldt University’s excavation at Musawwarat es Sufra in 1961. From 1962 onwards he was deputized by the Academy of Sciences of GDR to the Sudan’s Archaeological Service, for which he worked as an architect focusing on the excavation, reconstruction and conservation of archaeological monuments. Among his greatest achievements are the dismantling and recovery of the of Semna, Kumma, Buhen and Aksha threatened by the Great Dam, the excavation of temple M 250 at Meroe as well as his conservation efforts regarding the pyramids at Meroe.

 

The pyramids of Meroe in Sudan. The digital archive of F. Hinkel contains  30.000 photos, documenting the cultural heritage of Sudan. | © DAI

 

Mapping Sudan’s national treasures

In the course of his work Friedrich W. Hinkel collected information concerning thousands of archaeological sites in the Sudan, which he planned to publish in geographical order in the form of a publication series called “The Archaeological Map of the Sudan“ (AMS). Due to his work for the Sudan Antiquities Service (now the National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums) he had access to documents and sites previously unknown to other international scholars, making his archive a comprehensive collection of research.

The geographical structure of the “The Archaeological Map of the Sudan“ – and therefore large parts of his archive – is based on a grid system he encountered at the Sudan Antiquities Service and later enhanced using the International Map of the World. Within Hinkel’s AMS-system every site is assigned an alphanumerical code (the so called AMS-number), by which the location of the site can be identified up to an area of about 5 by 5 km. (see also: AMS)

 

Dr. Friedrich Hinkel working in Sudan | © DAI.

 

Publishing to Preserve

During his lifetime Dr. Hinkel published three volumes of the AMS (a guide as well as two volumes regarding The South Lybian Desert and The Area of the Red Sea Coast and Northern Ethiopian Frontier) as well as several supplement volumes focusing on single contexts. The lion’s share of his documents, however, remains unpublished.

His archive contains over 30.000 photographs, over 10.000 slides, about 540 topographical maps, over 4.000 drawings, over 20.000 index cards as well as several hundred folders containing geographically structured information on archaeological sites.

Owing to the generous support of the Qatar Sudan Archaeological Project (09/2014 until 03/2016) and the German Foreign Ministry (beginning in 04/2016) it was possible to digitize large part of Friedrich W. Hinkel’s research Archive and make it accessible via the iDAI.world in cooperation with the CoDArchLab and the National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums in Khartoum.

 

Dr. Hinkel documenting the pyramids of Meroe | © DAI.

 

Read more: New Exhibition “Pyramids of Meroe” (Sudan)

 

 

Source: German Archaeological Institute

Image: Dr. Friedrich Hinkel | © DAI

 

 

QSAP

New Exhibition “Pyramids of Meroe” (Sudan)

Inauguration of the renewed entrance to the royal cemetery in Sudan with a the new exhibition “Pyramids of Meroe”.

 

26th January the renewed and enlarged entrance to the royal cemeteries at Meroe/Begrawiya was inaugurated with the exhibition “The Pyramids of Meroe”. A new showroom with interpretive panels was opened to the public and is now welcoming tourists informing them about the ancient necropolis and its famous pyramids. The enhancement of the visitor entrance is an important achievement for this famous site and part of a large scale development project of the Qatari Mission for the Pyramids of Sudan (QMPS). The QMPS intends to holistically approach the installation of sustainable tourism and site management at the royal pyramids of Meroe together with all stakeholders including local communities not only to develop the site but also to learn more about the Sudanese ancient monuments and to conserve it for future generations.

  

New entrance building to the royal cemetary in Meroe | © DAI (CC-BY-NB-NC)

 

The World Heritage Site of Meroe is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Sudan. Its remarkable cemeteries with more than 100 pyramids attract thousands of Sudanese and international tourists each year. Since the 1960ies, the ancient site is adversely affected by environmental conditions and increasing tourism. In particular, sand erosion caused by accumulated dunes threatens the monuments. In 2014, Qatar Museums launched the Qatari Mission for the Pyramids of Sudan to investigate and to preserve the pyramid cemeteries of Meroe and to develop the site.

 

Show room of the exhibition “Pyramids of Meroe” | © DAI (CC-BY-NB-NC)

 

The project is embedded in the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project and closely cooperates with the Sudanese National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums and the German Archaeological Institute. The latter institute houses the Friedrich-Hinkel-Archive representing the most comprehensive archive of the archaeology and architecture of the Sudan. Friedrich Hinkel, a German architect, devoted almost 30 years of his life to the study and preservation of the pyramids at Meroe. The digitization and exploration of his archive’s holdings is another focus of the joint pyramid project and certainly an important basis for the Mission to continue his work to preserve the ancient Sudanese heritage at Meroe.

 

Show room of the exhibition | © P. Wolf (CC-BY-NB-NC).

 

Source: Press release German Archaeological Institute

Image: Pyramids of Meroe | © flickr (CC-BY-SA-2.0).

Resoration work in Angkor

Conservation of the Angkor temple complex (Cambodia)

The Federal Foreign Office supports the restoration and conservation of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Angkor Wat.

 

Some of the world’s most impressive cultural sites and artefacts are to be found in South-East Asia, amidst the forests of Cambodia. The massive scale and artistry of the temple city of Angkor, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, are simply breathtaking. Angkor Wat is a prominent symbol of Cambodia’s cultural identity; it is depicted on the Cambodian national flag and is one of the country’s most important attractions.

From the 9th to the 14th century, the Khmer Empire was centred in Cambodia. The largest and most important temple in the Angkor park is Angkor Wat. Its surface is decorated with unique statues and carvings, including almost 1850 heavenly beings known locally as Apsaras, bas reliefs up to 100 metres long in the galleries, and tympanums which look as though they have been carved from wood, many of which are in a worrying condition due to weather damage. As part of its Cultural Preservation Programme, the Federal Foreign Office is funding restoration and conservation work in Angkor and providing training for restorers and conservators.

 

Angkor Wat: new site showing dramatic damage. © Leisen/TH Köln

Following Angkor’s inscription on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC Angkor) was established in order to coordinate international preservation efforts with UNESCO . Since 1993, expert teams from 16 countries have been working to preserve and examine the temple complex, which has a magnetic attraction for a steadily increasing number of tourists.

Since 1997, under the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) in cooperation with the Cambodian heritage protection authority Apsara, a team from TH Köln/University of Applied Sciences headed by Professor Hans Leisen and Dr Esther von Plehwe-Leisen has been restoring the 12th century sandstone bas reliefs on the world’s largest sacred building as well as decorative features made of sandstone, brick and plaster on many other temples with financial support from the Federal Foreign Office.

 

 

An example of German-Cambodian cooperation

The restoration and conservation work is being performed by local restorers. The two German experts train Cambodian staff in conservation techniques and scientific working methods thereby creating new earning opportunities. In December 2017 during the ICC annual meeting, a symposium was held and a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the TH Köln/University of Applied Sciences and Apsara to mark the 20th anniversary of German engagement in Angkor. Certificates were presented to the local team by the Cambodian Minister of Culture detailing their involvement in the project.
The GACP is the most comprehensive and longest project in the Cultural Preservation Programme. The German team has earned great international recognition for its working methods and techniques, as well as for the results of its work. Through its worldwide involvement in the protection and maintenance of significant cultural heritage sites, Germany is making a crucial contribution to preserving cultural identities, promoting knowledge transfer and fostering intercultural dialogue.

 

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 Image: GACP team carrying out conservation work. © Leisen/TH Köln

The Two Headed Hammer project in Paradé and Ouri (Burkina Faso)

The Federal Foreign Office is supporting the preservation of traditional blacksmithing skills in the villages of Paradé and Ouri in rural Burkina Faso with funding from its Cultural Preservation Programme.

 

The aim of the Two Headed Hammer project is to preserve iron making and blacksmithing knowledge and skills in Burkina Faso and pass them on to future generations. Only a few elderly men still have these skills, which are at risk of dying out. If their expertise is not recorded soon, it is likely to be lost to future generations. The aim is to preserve this knowledge, which has always been handed down orally, for the future and make it available to coming generations. The project is being run in cooperation with the KulturFeuerStiftung, a German foundation that supports blacksmithing projects for children and young people, and its founder Andreas Rimkus, an artist and machinist.

A symposium on blacksmithing and wood craft was held in Paradé and Ouri at the start of the cultural preservation project. During the seminar, the participants learned about technology and skills, as well as living mythologies and legends, as recounted in the songs sung by blacksmiths while they work, and medicinal knowledge about fire and water for extinguishing fire.

 

Remains of a bloomery dating from around 1950. © Andreas Rimkus

 

A small building made of clay is being built over a bloomery and will be used as a museum, office and exhibition space for the villagers and visitors. The museum will record blacksmithing knowledge and skills and create an infrastructure to enable the inhabitants of Paradé and Ouri to preserve their cultural heritage on their own. The two villages will thus become a focal point for anyone interested in the origins and traditions of blacksmithing, which date back centuries.

Villagers have been given computers, a solar power plant and a photo and video camera, thus enabling them to archive knowledge that has only been preserved orally to date. They can also use the equipment provided by the project to ask blacksmiths in other parts of the country questions, gather further knowledge and publish their own website. Responsibility for the project is shared with tribe members, villagers and local associations.
The Konate Family, one of the oldest blacksmithing families in Burkina Faso, is the local project partner. Decisions are made by working closely with the chiefs of the two villages. Further information on the project is available here (in German).

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign

Image: The cultural preservation project preserves the traditional blacksmithing skills of past centuries. © Andreas Rimkus

 

Basar dome Iran - cultural heritage news

Restoring the dome of the Grand Bazaar in Tehran (Iran)

The historic dome spanning the charsuq has been restored under the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office in a project with RWTH Aachen University, the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation.

 

The dome at the bazaar crossroads rises above an octagonal floor plan and was last re plastered in the mid twentieth century. It has a circumference of 12 metres. Four shopping aisles intersect below the dome, with each entrance to an aisle forming a pointed arch. A niche with a shop is located between each of the entry points. The bazaar is one of the largest in the region and supplies Tehran’s huge population with domestic and imported products. Apart from restoring the dome, the aim of the project was to provide training and exchange views and experiences on methodology with the Iranian partners from ICCTHO.

  
Stucco on the dome of the bazaar intersection. © Christian Raabe, RWTH Aachen

 

Following a workshop based on the damage documented by the Iranian side, German and Iranian experts joined forces to plan and carry out the analysis, restoration methodology and necessary measures. The restoration of the tambours, stucco and pointed arches of the intersecting bazaar aisles has now been completed. The handover took place in February 2018.

 

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

Image: Experts from Germany and Iran carried out the restoration work. © Christian Raabe, RWTH Aachen

Preserving the cultural heritage of the Aché (Paraquay)

With the help of funding from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the endangered indigenous cultural heritage of the Aché in Paraguay has been preserved for the future.

 

With the help of funding from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the endangered indigenous cultural heritage of the Aché in Paraguay has been preserved for the future. Preserving the Aché culture is important for future generations, as it is part of Paraguay’s culture. The Aché were persecuted and sold as slaves until the 1970.  Only a few older members of the Aché have survived and are able to hand on the old traditions orally.

Their memories will be documented and preserved in the cultural heritage project. Alongside documentary films, a virtual museum with its own exhibits will be set up, with the aim of preserving the indigenous group’s history, which is handed on orally from generation to generation, and traditions. The persecution of the Aché was revealed in Paraguay in 1972 through a text by German ethnologist Mark Münzel, who drew international attention to the tragedy of the Aché. Around 1880 Aché currently live in seven groups. They are a minority among the country’s indigenous population.

 

Cultural heritage of the Aché is being recorded
The oral cultural heritage of the Aché is being recorded.© Asociación Madre Tierra

Three documentary films of around 45 to 60 minutes record and translate stories by the oldest Aché and document the group’s rituals, handicrafts and music. The virtual museum will also present the history and culture of the Aché. During the project, the Aché made traditional objects for the museum. The virtual museum will be made available to pupils from indigenous groups and the general public. The aim is also to provide online teaching material on the culture of the Aché.

The project is being carried out with the NGO Asociación Madre Tierra, which was founded in 1993 and has focused on work with indigenous groups since 2003. It facilitates direct contact with the community’s chief and head teacher, who in turn inform the members of the community about the films and museum. The aim of the project is to preserve a culture that is at risk of dying out by using modern technology to record the group’s oral history and traditions and making them available to the public.

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

Reconstructed temple of Karakorum.

Karakorum – A medieval city rises in 3D (Mongolia)

Digital preservation of cultural heritage has become an important tool for archaeologists and conservationists. The 3D visualisation of the medieval city of Karakorum gives us new exciting insights into the very heart of the mongolian empire.

 

Karakorum (in Mogolia) lies approximately 320 km west to the capital Ulaan Baatar and was a medieval city, that is newly excavated since 2000 by a German-Mongolian joint mission. The excavation is focused on a terrace, on which a ‘Great Hall’ was constructed. After evaluating the archaeological record, it is believed that the ‘Great Hall’ was in fact a Buddhist temple. On basis of the wall paintings as well as the architectural sculptures, a dating between the 12th and the 14th century is probable. The structure is one-phased, but features several restorations and alterations of unknown dimensions.Influences of Tibetan architecture is found in the ground plan of the central temple, that was built after the principle of a Mandala. The ground plan has a square form and is structured by the inner layout of the temple. The centre of the structure was emphasized by the erection of a stupa. The overall orientation of the terrace as well as the building to the four cardinal points in the North, East, South and West support the interpretation as a building with religious function even further.

 
 

 

The reconstruction was visualised with an animation to be able to explain the complicated composition of the terrace as well as the ‘Great Hall’, that shows influences of Chinese and Tibetan architecture. Especially the accurate realisation of the archaeological documented results, that was given by the excavators, was important to the team of Artefacts Berlin. The animation will be displayed in a nearby museum. Therefore, the translation of the explaining texts into Mongolian is self-explanatory. For a better understanding, the animation is divided into four parts: Location of the site, archaeological record, modern superstructure for preservation and the reconstruction of the ‘Great Hall’ itself.

The project was realised by Artefacts Berlin on behalf of Dr. Christina Franken, Kommission für Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen (KAAK), Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI), Bonn.

 

Source:  Artefacts Berlin 

Excavation in Peru.

The Nasca Elite Burials of La Muña (Peru)

Nasca Elite Burials from La Muña: Restauration and Development for Tourism of an Archaeological Site of the Middle Nasca Culture (AD 200 – 400).

Pottery from the Nasca era.
Vessel from grave 4 in La Muña, Peru. (©DAI, CC-BY-NC-ND)

La Muña is one of the most impressive archaeological sites of the Middle Nasca Culture in the province of Palpa on the Southern coast of Peru. The site shows a plurality of archaeological features as elite burials, terrace structures, platforms and geoglyphs. In the years 1998 and 2001 several areas of the site were excavated by the DAI but were filled up again for reasons of conservation. During the years 2012 and 2013 two elite burials were reexcavated, restored and prepared for tourism. An information center was erected to provide information on the archaeological work done and to show its results.

 

 

 

Source: German Archaeological Institute

Interview with Ambassador Robert Masozera, Director General of the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda

Conversion of the Kandt House Museum in Kigali (Rwanda)

The redesigned museum opened its doors to the public in time for Richard Kandt’s 150th birthday on 17 December 2017. Constructed in 1908, it is the last remaining architectural testimony to the German colonial era in Kigali.

The building of the redesigned museum was the residence of the “first German inhabitant” and founder of the Rwandan capital, Richard Kandt. The Kandt House Museum in the Rwandan capital Kigali showcases the history of Rwanda under the German colonial administration.
With the support of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the conceptual conversion of the Kandt House into a museum on the history of Rwanda at the beginning of the 20th century was facilitated by the partnership association Partnerschaftsverein Rheinland-Pfalz/Ruanda e.V. in cooperation with the Institute of National Museums in Rwanda (INMR). After the building had already been spared demolition in 2003 with funds from the Federal Government and Land Rhineland-Palatinate, the cultural preservation funding was used to support a (photo) exhibition consisting of historical (photographic) material, as well as to equip the exhibition space with display cases, audio stations, light installations and information boards. The natural history exhibition previously on display here was relocated to the Museum of Environment in Karongi and the Kandt House and its external facilities were renovated. In addition to the establishment of a library and media room as well as the development and implementation of an audio-visual concept, a roofed museum café was built in the external area.

 

Interior view of the museum
Interior view of the museum© Deutsche Botschaft Kigali

Following the redesign work, the museum now offers insights into traditions and life in Rwanda around the year 1900 and uses photos and other material to shed light on the impact of the colonial period on the population and the present day. The life and times of Richard Kandt, the Berlin Conference, the rush to the colonies on the part of adventurers, researchers and explorers, interactions between Rwandan and German actors and impacts on power and social structures are presented in modular exhibition units. In addition to the technical preservation of the colonial building, the emphasis is on examining and presenting this common colonial history, which inseparably links Germany and Rwanda, in a modern way.

A German-Rwandan cooperative partnership
German and Rwandan historians, museologists, artists and film makers jointly developed the concept for transforming the Kandt House into a modern museum. The partnership with the Institute of National Museums in Rwanda (INMR) for redesigning the Kandt House is helping to strengthen the national identity of Rwandan civil society, which is still coming to grips with the genocide.
The project partners are diverse and include the Institute of National Museums in Rwanda (INMR), the Ministry of Sports and Culture (Minispoc), the Partnerschaftsverein Rheinland-Pfalz/Ruanda e.V. (Jumelage), the German Embassy in Kigali, the Goethe-Institut, the Natural History Museum Mainz and the Kwetu Film Institute.

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

Restoring and relocating the Merklin-Schütze organ in Havana (Cuba)

The Federal Foreign Office has supported the restoration of the historic Merklin-Schütze organ in the Iglesia San Francisco de Asis in Havana as part of its Cultural Preservation Programme since October 2017.

Built in 1858 for the Iglesia de Caridad in Havana, this almost fully preserved organ, which has been unplayable for decades, is one of the most valuable cultural assets of the historic part of the old town in Cuba’s capital, protected by UNESCO. The Iglesia de la Caridad del Cobre is one of the most important churches in Havana. The instrument is not only among the best organs in the country in terms of craftsmanship and artistry, but is also one of the oldest preserved organs in the entire Caribbean.

 

Baltisches Orgel Centrum Stralsund e.V. (Baltic organ association, BOC) is completing the restoration of the organ built by the two renowned German masters Joseph Merklin and Friedrich Schütze in cooperation with the local restoration workshop Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana and veteran Swiss organ builder Ferdinand Stemmer. Cuban craftsmen are being trained to maintain the instrument in the future. After undertaking scientific research on comparative instruments, stock-taking and purchasing necessary materials and tools, the complete organ mechanism was entirely dismantled and transported from the Iglesia de Caridad to the Iglesia San Francisco de Asis for restoration in November 2017, where the pipes were also repaired and cleaned. During the further course of the project, the casings will be restored and the ongoing work will continue to be documented.

 

Historic organ Cuba
The keyboard of the historic organ (© Martin Rost)
 

Music as a bridge between cultures

A playable, fully restored historic church organ in line with good conservation practice is the objective of this comprehensive restoration project. Musical events with soloists from Cuba and abroad can be held that will help to foster both international exchanges of musicians and the tourist industry. Moreover, the historic organ is urgently needed for training church musicians and for supporting church music in general. Thanks to a cooperation agreement between the Instituto de Estudios Eclesiásticos P. Félix Varela and the College of Catholic Church Music and Musical Education in Regensburg, young organists have had the opportunity to receive training in Havana since 2016. This is the first time that Catholic Church Music has been offered as a university subject in Cuba. Students will be able to use the organ during their studies after the restoration work has been completed.
The Iglesia San Francisco de Asis, a restored church in the heart of Havana’s old town protected by UNESCO, is one of the most important tourist attractions and a major venue for classical concerts such as the annual Semana de Música Sacra.
Thanks to the restoration of the Merklin-Schütze organ with funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme, an important testimony to Cuba’s cultural past is being preserved for future generations.
The project partners are the German World Heritage Foundation and the Baltisches Orgel Centrum e.V., as well as the Archbishop’s Office of the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba. The project is being completed in connection with the church music training programme recently launched by the Catholic Church in Cuba.

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

 

 

Former missionary hut

Restoring the Rebmann missionary house in Rabai (Kenya)

Since March 2017, the Federal Foreign Office has contributed funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme to support the restoration and expansion of the Rabai cultural centre near Mombasa on the Kenyan coast.

It was here that the German missionary Ludwig Krapf, who travelled to Kenya in 1844, translated the Bible into Swahili. He lived on this site and built a church together with Johannes Rebmann, who was also a missionary. Once their residential buildings and the church no longer had any structures worth preserving, new buildings were erected on the foundation walls. In 1986 and 1987, the German Embassy in Nairobi supported the establishment of a small museum on the premises of the former church. The site in Rabai is closely bound up with the missionaries Krapf and Rebmann, who are well known in Kenya.

 

Former missionary house in Rabai© Uwe Koppel

The Rabai Church is considered to be the origin of Christianity in East and Central Africa.

The Federal Foreign Office’s cultural preservation funds are being used to make the cultural, historical and religious significance of the Rabai site accessible to a wide public. As a national meeting centre, cultural site and memorial, it offers neighbouring communities the opportunity to become involved as well as scope for cooperation with universities.
The restoration of the structure will enable the Rebmann house to be used as a meeting centre for the local population and the church community. In addition to this, the original church will be used for an exhibition designed by the National Museums of Kenya. The project focuses on the restoration of the two residential buildings and the original church. The resulting opportunities for tourists and school classes to visit the museum will help to improve their cultural and historical understanding.

The construction of the memorial with a religious and cultural background on the Rabai premises is taking place within the context of efforts to come to terms with recent Kenyan history, strengthening national identity and promoting cultural dialogue based on partnership. The project is being implemented in cooperation with the National Museums of Kenya, the Anglican Church of Kenya in Rabai and the local government. Further information can be found here on the website of the National Museums of Kenya.

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

Temple restoration in the imperial city of Hué (Viet Nam)

Works of art and edifices testify to Viet Nam’s culture reaching back for centuries. They convey past lifestyles to today’s generations in an impressive way – to the Vietnamese population and to tourists from around the world alike. But works of art have a tough time in Viet Nam. The humid and warm climate, past military conflicts and maintenance work neglected and postponed over many decades have taken their toll on these unique buildings.

The German Embassy in Hanoi has therefore been working intensively for many years in close cooperation with Vietnamese experts and organisations within the framework of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office to restore buildings and cultural sites in the long term. Extensive restoration work on the gateway and the spirit screen of the Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc in Hué and the community hall in Tran Dang are examples of Germany’s cultural policy in Viet Nam. Thanks to the cooperation between German restoration experts and Vietnamese cultural sponsors, important steps have been taken towards preserving this cultural heritage. Moreover, further measures have been launched in recent years that are supported by funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office that have promising prospects for the future.

 

Temple Restauration Vietnam
External façade of the south gate (© A.Teufel/GEKE)

 

Conservation and restoration in line with UNESCO standards

The conservation and restoration of the portal, screen and basin of the Phung Tien Temple began in August 2017 with an accompanying training programme. The almost 200 year old construction is one of the most valuable examples of original preserved architecture from the early period of construction of the imperial city designed in accordance with Feng Shui rules. In contrast to the temple on the site, which was destroyed in 1947, it has withstood the test of time. Traditional building materials and technologies as well as modern conservation materials and methods are being drawn on. A special emphasis is placed on the development and application of an authentic restoration method for frescos and buildings featuring coloured plastering. The project with an accompanying training programme is being implemented with employees from local restoration companies and the Hué Monuments Conservation Centre, as well as freelance artisans.

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

Zooming in on archaeology – Photography workshop in Cairo (Egypt)

Photography is one of the most important documentation tools in archeology. Photos of objects help capture the condition of an object during the excavation as well as before and after restoration work. They are used for publishing or for digital reconstruction. Today, photos of objects can also be used as templates for 3D models. And photography can be used as an advertising medium or for research, without jeopardizing the original. But to present an archaeological object both scientifically usable and aesthetically pleasing requires some knowledge.

The DAI Cairo regularly organises training courses for Egyptian colleagues to familiarize them with the latest methods and techniques. Between the 28th of January and the 8th of February 15 archaeologists of the Ministry of Antiquities had the opportunity to participate in a photo workshop, given by photographer Andreas Paasch. Paasch lived in Egypt for 10 years and took photographs on a variety of excavations and in museums, partly on behalf of the DAI. Due to his vast knowledge of the difficult working conditions on excavations the participants are well prepared for the task at hand. The work shop offers not only hands-on-experiences necessary for the job, but due to its profound introduction, valuable insight into object photography.

We thank Mr. Paasch for his efforts and the Federal Foreign Office for providing special funds for this workshop.

 

Additional Links

 

Source: German Archaeological Institute

Reconstruction with state-of-the-art technology

The Citadel in the Iranian city of Bam is of inestimable historical value. It is now being earthquake-proofed in line with the latest scientific standards.

 

It was a disaster on so many levels, including for archaeologists: In 2003, an earthquake that reached 6.5 on the Richter Scale almost completely destroyed the historic Citadel in the Iranian city of Bam. It is considered the largest clay building complex in the world. To underscore its significance, in 2004 UNESCO declared the 2,500-year-old Citadel with its Old Town a World Cultural Heritage site. Now, thanks to the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office one of the Citadel’s central buildings has been reconstructed: Sistani House. This is a typical Iranian residence for a merchant family dating from the 18th century. Technische Universität Dresden and the Iranian heritage protection authority ICHHTO  teamed up on the project to preserve and reconstruct the building to make it earthquake resistant.

Cultural preservation worldwide 

In addition to technical knowhow, in several annual campaigns between 2007 and 2014 the project partners exchanged knowledge about methodological and planning approaches. Following extensive studies and practical experiments their work was able to benefit from the latest scientific findings and appropriate technologies. Firstly, what was left of the building was reinforced with fibreglass rods. Subsequently the workmen reconstructed the rooms using specially developed clay bricks reinforced with date palm fibres and wrapped fibreglass mesh around the vaulted ceilings and transverse arches.

The project will be handed over to ICHHTO on 3 March 2018 during an official ceremony attended by the German Ambassador in Iran, Michael Klor-Berchtold, and the project manager Wolfram Jäger.

The Federal Republic of Germany has been supporting the preservation of cultural heritage all over the world since 1981 in the context of the Cultural Preservation Programme. With its global commitment to the protection and maintenance of significant cultural heritage, Germany renders an important contribution to the preservation of cultural identities, promotes knowledge transfer and intercultural dialogue, and contributes to scientific exchange.

 

Source: How Germany ticks

Image: View of the Citadel of Bam (© Wiki Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Samoa: Memories of “The Pearl of the South Seas”

Germans arrived in Samoa in around 1840, when the Hamburg-based Godeffroy company relocated its main Pacific trading base from Valparaiso in Chile to the Samoan capital, Apia. German sailors and merchants settled here, married Samoan women and helped develop the island. A German school, postal agency and consulate were fixtures of everyday life in Apia long before Western Samoa officially became a German colony in 1900.

Samoa was the last colony acquired by the German Reich, and this had a number of very positive effects for the country. Firstly, lessons had been learnt from past mistakes. Above all, however, the Governor, Dr Wilhelm Solf, pursued a cautious, circumspect, paternalistic line in coordination with local advisers. Samoan autonomy in the villages was retained, in some cases even extended. The Samoans were allowed to use the land outside Apia. Samoan, not German, was the first language in schools.

 

Governor Dr. Wilhelm Solf on Samoa, near Apia 1910. (©Wiki Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 de)

Following the islands’ occupation by New Zealand at the beginning of the First World War, energetic appeals from the Samoan fautua (tribal chief) Tamasese to the New Zealand military administration prevented the planned summary expulsion of Germans. Tamasese succeeded in obtaining permission for German husbands to stay with their Samoan wives, with the result that more than one German-Samoan marriage was concluded at the last minute. Walking through the streets of Apia today, or leafing through the Samoan phone book, one is struck by the many German names: Keil, Kruse, Berking, Retzlaff, Stünzner and many more. None of these Samoan-Germans today speak German, but the word “German” still has a positive ring in Samoan ears. After the Second World War, even though their own country was hardly prosperous, many Samoans with German “relations” sent CARE packages to starving Germans in war-ravaged Europe. Nor was it coincidence that in 1989 Samoa was the first country in the world to issue a special stamp to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall, at the same time recollecting the historical links between the two countries since the 1889 Treaty of Berlin.

In order to underscore Samoa’s good relations with the Federal Republic of Germany and to keep up memories of our shared history, the Federal Foreign Office is funding the digitization of German colonial files in Samoa. The Federal Archives will then secure the archive material so that it can be consulted. The material thus preserved bears witness to personal stories and fates as well as to the political ties between the two countries in the colonial period.

 

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Preserving historic audio recordings (Namibia)

Namibia has a rich pop music heritage. The Federal Foreign Office supports a project to preserve historic audio recordings.

During decades of apartheid, not only did Namibian pop music receive no funding from government agencies, it was also controlled and in some cases even suppressed. Many audio recordings were often not kept for posterity at all or were saved only on private, fragile storage media, such as audio cassettes. This musical heritage was in danger of disappearing altogether.

The founders of the Stolen Moments Namibia Music History Untold research group, Aino Moongo and Baby Doeseb, set themselves the task of preserving these musical testimonies of the apartheid era for future generations. The Federal Foreign Office provided around 50,000 euros for this project within the framework of its Cultural Preservation Programme.

 

The Original Jazz Masters and Erna Chimu at the ceremony to celebrate the completion of the project© Sabine Linn

 

The technical equipment for digitising the recordings was provided within the context of the project. A German expert travelled to the country to train Namibian audio technicians, who then digitised numerous recordings and transferred the data to a music database. The digitisation of the music storage media has now been largely completed. An important part of Namibian music history has thus been made accessible both to researchers and to the general Namibian public. Not only academics but also the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the National Archives of Namibia have access to the music via the database and are helping to revive knowledge about this musical genre, which was almost lost.

Aldred Dreyer, Chief Technology Officer at NBC, is happy: “The project is of great significance for the country and for NBC, and has helped preserve Namibia’s rich cultural heritage.”

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

 

The Great Hall of Karakorum (Mongolia)

By reconstructing and safeguarding elements of a monumental Buddhist temple dating from the 13th century, research findings can now be presented for the first time on the site of the former Mon- golian capital of Karakorum, where they were discovered.

Karakorum is located around 300 kilometres west of Ulan Bator in the Central Mongolian grass steppe. For a short time during the 13th century, the city was the capital of the Mongol Empire. It served as a hub for the Mongol Empire’s tribes and a cosmopolitan meeting place for people from a very wide range of nations and religions. Mongolians still regard Karakorum as a key site for the country’s history and identity, as well as the nucleus and birthplace of the Mongolian nation.

Restoration work.
Restoration work. © DAI

 

It is almost impossible for contemporary visitors to the city founded under Genghis Khan to imagine the dramatic history that played out beneath the uneven terrain to the north of the Erdene Zuu monastery, which dates from the Modern era.

Since 2000, German and Mongolian archaeologists have been working together to research the history of the city of Karakorum. In addition to excavations in the city centre, they primarily concentrated on a detailed examination of the Great Hall in south-west Karakorum.

As the extensive excavations revealed, this was a square Buddhist temple whose walls were around 40 metres long. The magnificent hall designed in the Chinese style rose up from a two-metre-high, artificially stacked platform and was supported by 64 wooden columns on plinths in eight rows of eight. A stupa building in the centre and the division of the interior space into coloured flooring segments clearly demonstrate the mandala concept. The lotus thrones with the remains of large Buddhist sculptures lend weight to this interpretation.

The Great Hall of Karakorum; detail of the digital reconstruction.
The Great Hall of Karakorum; detail of the digital reconstruction. © artefacts Berlin

 

Although large parts of the building’s architecture have not survived, the high platform made of artificial layers of earth, on which the temple originally rested, is still recognisable today.

In order to counteract the constant threat of erosion and the prevailing adverse weather conditions in Mongolia, extensive protection measures have been in place since 2013 as part of a conservation project. These include rebuilding the wall that originally surrounded the platform, extensively safeguarding the platform surface, uncovering the remaining plinths, and erecting staircases that give visitors access to the platform.

Erdene Zuu monastery close to the excavation site
Erdene Zuu monastery close to the excavation site.

 

By protecting and partially reconstructing the monumental temple, episodes from the past which had a significant impact on modern Mongolia can be made accessible to a broad audience for the first time as part of the German-Mongolian research project.

Project: Dr. Christina Franken, Project Manager, German Archaeological Institute

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Mughal Tomb Chaunsath Khamba (New Delhi, India)

The restoration of Chaunsath Khambha, a Mughal mausoleum dating back to the early 17th century, was carried out between 2010 and 2014. The project was part of the Urban Renewal project run by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in the historic Nizamuddin quarter, where Humayun’s Tomb – a World Heritage site – is also to be found. For this unique project, the 25 marble domes in the tomb were removed and put back together by hand to replace centuries-old damaged iron dowels.

Chaunsath Khambha was built in 1623–4 to serve as a tomb for Mirza Aziz Koka, foster brother of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The name reflects the tomb’s architecture: chaunsath (64) stands for the tomb’s 64 marble pillars (khambha). The mausoleum is unique on account of it being built entirely out of marble, with 25 marble domes supporting the flat roof of the structure.

The marble blocks of the 25 domes are linked to one another and embedded in the brick masonry above the domes with iron dowels. The rain water that had collected on the roof over the centuries had severely corroded the iron dowels. This led to them bursting through the masonry in all parts of the mausoleum – domes, arches, façade and even the columns. The mausoleum’s entire structure was thus in jeopardy.

Chaunsath Khambha was built in 1623–4 to serve as a tomb for Mirza Aziz Koka, foster brother of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The name reflects the tomb’s architecture: chaunsath (64) stands for the tomb’s 64 marble pillars (khambha). The mausoleum is unique on account of it being built entirely out of marble, with 25 marble domes supporting the flat roof of the structure.

The marble blocks of the 25 domes are linked to one another and embedded in the brick masonry above the domes with iron dowels. The rain water that had collected on the roof over the centuries had severely corroded the iron dowels. This led to them bursting through the masonry in all parts of the mausoleum – domes, arches, façade and even the columns. The mausoleum’s entire structure was thus in jeopardy.

unique architectural design and construction of Chaunsath Khambha as well as the fact that each stone was unique in shape and size, it was agreed that all original stones would be retained. To this end, each of the 25 domes had to be dismantled in order to remove the damaged iron dowels. Such an effort had never been undertaken before anywhere in the world.

Once each stone had been numbered and catalogued, the individual marble blocks were dismantled and reassembled on the floor. The iron dowels were removed and cracks were filled using precisely-fitting stones. It took the stonecutters eight months to successfully repair the first dome using traditional building techniques – thus establishing the methodology for repairing the rest of the mausoleum. This allowed urgently needed repairs to the roof to be taken in hand.

The repairs to the domes were coupled with repairs to the 35cm thick arch stones and the severely damaged diamond-shaped pendentives which support the marble domes. All in all, the repair of the 25 domes has taken almost four years, which amounted to more than 25,000 days of work for the stone craftsmen.

Project: Ratish Nanda, Programme Director at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office