(Fulbright-Hays Scholar, Near Eastern Art and Archaeology, Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA)
In 2003, under the auspices of a Fulbright-Hays scholarship and working closely with the authorities of the National Museum of Iran (Iran-e Bastan Museum) and the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHO) provincial authorities of Khuzistan, I was able to successfully compile a digital corpus of material culture related to the ancient Iranian civilization of Elam. In addition, I made an assessment of the collection and reported on the results to the Iranian authorities.
At the outset, I will be presenting a summary of the official report. Subsequently, I will articulate a number of observations in regards to the museological implications of this study for future archaeological research in the Near East. These observations stipulate and encourage archeological and museological objectives cognizant of twenty-first-century challenges. At its core, this vision is compelled by a philosophical understanding of the museum as a research and didactical institution, while critically considering the complex relationships between museums and politics, and the imperative need to merge computer literacy with a sound understanding of the material at hand. At the end it is the archaeologist, I argue, that through our privileged role as interpreters of the material past, together with a full awareness of present cultural and political realities, is uniquely positioned to advocate for fully-implemented digital museum systems which would enhance the protection of cultural heritage and make archaeological collections truly accessible to a global audience.