Matrix is thrilled to announce that phase two is under way in The Gorée Island Archaeological Digital Repository. The Gorée Island Archaeological Digital Repository seeks to create virtual 3D representations of cultural heritage materials excavated from archaeological sites in and around Gorée Island, Senegal and share those representations in an open-access, online digital repository. The focus of this phase is to create an initial digital repository of approximately 50 selected artifacts. Phase one began back in December 2012 when Matrix Director Dean Rehberger and Mike Green, Director of the Digital Media Lab, traveled to Senegal to begin the project.
As part of this next phase, Green is back in Senegal to consult with the team on the next phase of project technology. The results of this project are hosted here and are composed of a series of 3D images of cultural heritage artifacts excavated from the Gorée Island dig sites. These images can be accessed via any web browser and are completely free for study, use, and research.
This work addresses critical needs in the scholarly community. It enables cultural heritage institutions in Africa to digitally preserve archaeological materials in a way that is unobtrusive, inexpensive, and free from colonial interpretation and bias. The repository allows scholars both within Africa and around the world to have unprecedented access to these cultural heritage materials without the restrictions and inconveniences of analog-based preservation. The project also builds capacity amongst Senegalese students, scholars, and organizations to continue documenting and preserving cultural heritage materials using industry best standards and practices. The Gorée Island Archaeological Digital Repository is designed around focused training session in which technical experts from the United States train and tutor Senegalese content experts in best practices for 3D digital preservation.
Documenting, safeguarding, preserving, interpreting/reinterpreting, and making accessible the myriad expressions of Africa’s many cultures is vitally important for Africa’s diverse constituent communities as well as for the rest of the world. Museums, libraries, and archives in Africa and around the world face an enormous challenge as Africa’s diverse and rich cultural heritage has been scattered by history and put at risk by wars, illicit trafficking, overwhelming economic challenges, and destruction or erosion due to human and environmental impacts.
The Gorée Island Archaeological Digital Repository is made possible through active collaboration between MATRIX, Michigan State University, AFRICOM, the Smithsonian Institution, the Association of African American Museums, and the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums). We welcome you to browse the site to learn more about the Gorée Island Archaeological Digital Repository, study the 3D object visualizations, and become active supporters of the project.