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UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Living Museum of Umm Qais: Sustainable preservation, analysis and virtual reconstruction of Gadara's ancient site and village

Disclaimer: The data for this page has been produced from IATI data published by UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Please contact them (Show Email Address) if you have any questions about their data.

Programme Data Last Updated: 23/03/2022

IATI Identifier: GB-GOV-13-FUND--Newton-AH_S011609_1


Umm Qais (mkes) is located 120km north of Amman, and its vicinity to Yarmouk River and the Sea of Galilee granted the site a unique significance amongst other Roman Decapolis cities on their Eastern Mediterranean region. The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans left their own marks there. Remains of the city still show theatres, baths, vaulted shops, tombs, cardo and documanus. However, Umm Qais tangible heritage continues to suffer existential threats from a number of factors that affect its archaeological, physical features and morphological transformations and risk its enduring presence on the long-term. These include natural and human-made, such as environmental changes, earthquakes, and new settlement patterns that see the site as more of irrelevant remains of invading foreign cultures than the archaeological heritage of their ancestors. Such antagonizing relationship between community and heritage resulted in lack of knowledge and appreciation of the site's history, archaeological importance, attempts to destroy its elements for economic gains and the lack of economic engagement with tourism that would otherwise benefit hundreds of poor and unemployed community members. Such an antagonist relationship also had its impact on long-term preservation plans and development what requires a critical action of engagement that put the community socio-economic welfare at the heart of the site's preservation and future development. There is an international effort to implement a sustainable conservation strategy of the site. There is a need to document, record and analyse the multi-layered structures of Umm Qais by implementing an evidence-based strategy and action-plan to inform the sustainable preservation of the site using digital and virtual LiDAR technologies to accurately record its fragmented remains adding sub-layers of socio-cultural history, spatial and architectural transformations. The project will use archaeological and architectural research, state-of-the-art point-cloud laser scanning, virtual modelling, and crowdsourcing of social history to interrogate fragmented evidence of architectural remains and produce coherent narratives of the history of Umm Qais and its role as an important node of regional cultural and political routes. The project will produce a series of textual, visual and virtual outputs including publications, exhibitions, digitally - reconstructed history and virtual tours of the site to support public awareness and user engagement at the Jordan Museums and Umm Qais Museum and at international venues. This project will widely support a multidisciplinary collaboration between Jordan and the UK. The research team collectively has extensive experience in delivering scholarly research outputs and engaging with government institutions, policymakers and stakeholders. This innovative project will gather new evidence on the archaeological history of the site, its spatial layout, overlapping structures and help building new modes of public engagement with local communities as essential partners in the preservation and development strategy in Jordan. It is designed to challenge the current underuse of the site and develop the heritage of Umm Qais into a living experience that focuses on visitor and user interpretation of history. The project will revive and activate the social role of the archaeological site and museum and work with communities to establish forums for creating a sustainable community asset. The project will develop Integrated virtual environments that incorporate researched, archived and surveyed datasets to offer 3D & 4D interactive virtual environment supported by infographics, statistical data and Digitised archaeological database of the site. It will attempt to produce a credible layout of the Gadara's spatial structures, buildings' layout and infrastructure overlaying archaeological and spatial data and imaging of the site on a custom-designed ArcGIS model of the site.


The proposed project aims to record, preserve, and analyse the endangered and multi-layered heritage site of Umm Qais including the Ottoman village houses, tracing their origins and materials to ancient Gadara's plan. It will develop a coherent understanding of the distinctive layers of the Greek, Roman and Ottoman heritage and more recent cultural heritage practices and products. The project looks not only on the archaeological and physical fabric of Umm Qais but also 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 make it economically sustainable. Our interdisciplinary research team brings pioneering scientific research and innovative methods into using digital and virtual heritage technologies to record, preserve and disseminate the site's archaeological features and historic significance to the local, national and international tourism community and as a catalyst for 'Decent Work and Economic Growth' (UN SDG 8). The project will specifically address UN SDG 2030 target on devising and implementing policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products. It will inform the sustainable preservation of the site, fostering novel economic opportunities, and design an effective public engagement platform for local communities. The key research question is: ""How effective is the integration of archaeological research, LiDAR scanning, and virtual technologies in synthesising novel and evidence-based findings on historical evolution and conditions of Umm Qais' heritage and guiding a community-led sustainable development strategy that will re-engage community members, attract global tourism and shape dynamic economy around heritage and tourism enterprises?"" As such, the proposed research has four main objectives that will: a) undertake archival and archaeological research on the history and architecture of the Ottoman Houses and Central Gadara. We will use material analysis techniques mapping history, components and spatial structure of the ancient city. Fieldwork surveys will also identify elements at risk for priority protection and conservation. b) develop and implement a customised methodology for accurate 3D laser scanning and digital survey, to record, analyse and virtually model the archaeological site, its current conditions and historical evolution over time. This method will encompass 3D laser scanning, 3D sound recording, structural analysis, and form a critical digital database of the site's archaeological assets. c) attempt to produce a credible spatial layout of ancient Gadara and Ottoman houses overlaying archaeological, spatial data, and satellite imaging on a custom-designed ArcGIS model. This will be used to develop a virtual heritage experience and knowledge platform for Umm Qais heritage through Interactive visualisation, educational infographics and virtual trials of both settlements to raise the awareness of the site's significance as a critical part of a sustainable tourism strategy. d) train and engage local community members and young people in documenting and recording the socio-cultural history and living stories of the Umm Qais local community and residents. This will not only facilitate skill-training for early career researchers, but it will build capacity amongst the local community to establish own social, and private enterprises and start-ups that contribute to income generation, active economy and tourism industry.

Status - Post-completion More information about Programme status
Programme Spend More information about Programme funding
Participating Organisation(s) More information about implementing organisation(s)

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