The Living Museum of Umm Qais: Sustainable preservation, analysis and virtual reconstruction of Gadara's ancient site and village
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 Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with developing countries across the world to promote the economic development and social welfare of the partner countries.
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