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Department of Archaeology

 

The Mapping Africa’s Endangered Archaeological Sites and Monuments (MAEASaM) project aims to identify and document endangered archaeological heritage sites across Africa using a combination of remote sensing, records-based research, and selective archaeological surveys. It will make records of these sites available in an Open Access Arches geospatial relational database tailored for different interest groups and stakeholders. Past, present and potential future threats to these sites will be identified and assessed, and approaches to enhancing long-term site protection measures and new management policies will be developed with the project’s Africa-based partners and collaborators. The project aims to ensure long-term sustainability of the mapping and monitoring components through targeted training of in-country collaborators and other heritage stakeholders.

The project will focus initially on mapping the archaeological heritage of eight countries in Africa: Mali, Senegal, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Botswana. These have been selected to provide a cross-section of different site types and conditions, the diversity of threats to archaeological sites, in-country needs and capacity, and data availability. Teams based at the Universities of Cambridge, York and Exeter, University College London, Uppsala University, Université de Cheik Anta Diop Dakar, University of the Witwatersrand, and the British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi will collaborate with relevant national heritage bodies to collate, digitise and synthesise existing national archaeological site inventory records and published data on archaeological and cultural heritage sites. Using remote sensing, historical maps and automated site detection methods MAEASaM will document previously unidentified archaeological and cultural heritage sites with particular emphasis on those under threat from urban growth, conflict, sea-level change, and infrastructural development. The different teams will also undertake field assessments of a sample of threatened sites to assess the reliability and accuracy of remote sensing methods for site detection, and provide in-country training for site detection, recording, database entry and database sustainability.

All data will be published online utilising the Arches version 5.0 platform. The collated and analysed data will be used to develop country-specific recommendations for future research priorities and management and mitigation strategies, in consultation with relevant national, regional and international heritage management agencies. The database will also be used to promote wider public understanding of Africa’s rich and diverse archaeological heritage.

Funding: Arcadia a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, 2020-24.

Team Members:

  • MAEASaM Project Manager and Remote Sensing Data Co-ordinator – Dr Stefania Merlo
  • MAEASaM Database Officer – Mahmoud Abdelrazek

External Collaborators

  • Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones (Department of Archaeology, University of York.
  • Professor Kevin MacDonald, Institute of Archaeology, University College London
  • Professor Tim Insoll, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter
  • Dr Daniel Löwenborg, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Professor Ibrahima Thiaw, IFAN, University Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal
  • Professor Elhadi Adam, School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Dr Jane Humphris, British Institute in Easter Africa. Nairobi, Kenya

Image: Ancient pastoralist settlement viewed from the air, Amboseli, Kenya. Photo: P. Lane.

Project Lead

Project Tags

Themes: 
Science, Technology and Innovation
Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Heritage
Periods of interest: 
Classical - Roman
Copper/Bronze Age
Iron Age
Medieval
Neolithic
Other Historical
Other Late Prehistory
Other Prehistory
Palaeolithic/Mesolithic
Pharaonic
Post-Medieval
Geographical areas: 
Africa
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Built Environment
Field Methods
Heritage Management
Cultural Heritage
Subjects: 
Archaeological Science
Archaeology
Heritage Studies
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