An object biography of Athena Allat at Palmyra

(German Archaeological Institute, Stunde Null, Berlin, Germany)

Keywords: Narrative visualization, object biography, Palmyra, archaeology, digital heritage

Acknowledging the processual nature of material culture, its artefacts and contexts, a Syrian-German project is indebted to the novel approach of object biography. The object concerned is the Athena Allat monument at Palmyra.
It is the aim to reconstruct the monument’s changing appearance and state phase by phase up to the present’s day, including action taken in response to damage it suffered: a cultural biography of the monument from the original raw material to the present-day artefact. Computational archaeology, after all, is not just a matter of geo-data; it is also a matter of object-data.
Cultural heritage data concerns the identity of all forms of human organization. Whoever controls this data can possess, manipulate or destroy identities. Examples of this are many and varied. Cultural heritage data must therefore not exclude the people in host countries, but should actively include them. What is necessary therefore is a reorientation towards the specificities of cultural heritage data and towards crises. The Syrian-German case study seeks to be sensitive to these manifold conditionalities and to formulate an answer to the question of how to respond to the crisis. Making cultural data and project-related results available as parts of a network are of fundamental importance. The DAI’s online platform and data infrastructure, iDAI.welt, plays a key role in the efforts to structure and archive cultural heritage data for its long-term preservation and open access.
The case study is a international cooperation/co-production with Walid As’aad, Andreas Schmidt-Colinet et al.