Heritage and Technology

Connecting people and places to highlight our shared humanity

Palm Leaf Manuscript Digitization by U.S. Department of StateCultural Heritage Center, U.S. Department of State

Technology

Technology can aid in preserving and revitalizing cultural heritage, indigenous knowledge, languages, and oral traditions to ensure they are shared with future generations. It can also be used to increase and broaden  access to cultural sites and experiences.

Digital Map of Wat Chaiwatthanaram by U.S. Department of State and 2015Cultural Heritage Center, U.S. Department of State

U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP)

The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation leverages and supports the latest technologies developed by innovators in the U.S. public and private sectors to help communities around the world preserve and share their heritage.

Nan Madol, Micronesia

In its time, Nan Madol was the ceremonial center of the Saudeleur dynasty, a vibrant period in Pacific Island culture, whose local rulers are said to have been the first in the region to adopt a centralized form of governance. 

Conservation of the 13th-16th-Century Nan Madol Archaeological Site (13th to16th Century)Cultural Heritage Center, U.S. Department of State

In 2018 and 2020, AFCP projects used LiDAR technology (Light Detection and Ranging — a remote sensing method used to examine the surface of the earth) to map ruins of large structures from this time.   

Virgin Mary Church Madaba (2019-10-24) by APAAME 2020CyArk

Madaba

Historic downtown Madaba, Jordan is home to the Madaba Regional Archeology Museum and a heritage trail of archaeological parks and historic buildings, including St. George’s Church.  

Madaba_MapCyArk

St. George

During construction of the church in the 19th century, workers discovered 6th century mosaics, including the oldest mosaic map of the Holy Land. 

Photogrammetry at St. George Church in Madaba (2019)CyArk

Photogrammetry

In 2020, AFCP brought together multiple partners from the U.S. and Jordan to leverage photogrammetry to document and share these cultural heritage sites.  CyArk provided equipment and training for students at the American University in Madaba.

Map of MadabaCyArk

Storytelling

CyArk provided equipment and training for students at the American University in Madaba. Students documented the ancient mosaics and worked with CyArk, a nonprofit organization, to create virtual tours. StoryCenter, another nonprofit, helped local experts narrate the tours.

Areni Cave 3D VisualizationCultural Heritage Center, U.S. Department of State

Areni

Areni-1 Cave in southern Armenia is another cultural heritage site that has been documented and made more accessible using 3D recording technology.    Also known as Bird's Cave, this Copper Age archaeological site dates from the 5th to 4th millennia BCE. 

Areni

Uncontrolled access to the site had led to damage, vandalism, and theft. A 2013 AFCP project involved the installation of fencing, pathways, and lighting at the site, as well as the stabilization of excavated and partially exposed artifacts. 

Areni

AFCP partners at CyArk created a virtual tour and a comprehensive 3D site model to show the world that Areni is more than a small cave: it’s a historic treasure chest containing some of the earliest evidence of winemaking and the earliest known human shoe.

Ukrainian Developers at Work (2022/2022) by U.S. Embassy WarsawCultural Heritage Center, U.S. Department of State

Cultural Heritage Game Jams

The U.S. also works with the video game and programming community.  In 2021, programmers participated in a global challenge to create games that share cultural heritage with new audiences, gaining new allies in the effort to safeguard our shared past. 

Ukraine Game Jam Group Photo, U.S. Embassy Warsaw, 2022/2022, From the collection of: Cultural Heritage Center, U.S. Department of State
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Ukraine Global Game Jam CHC with SIngers, U.S. Embassy Warsaw, 2022/2022, From the collection of: Cultural Heritage Center, U.S. Department of State
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In 2022, gamers around the world celebrated Ukraine’s cultural heritage at the United With Ukraine Game Jam. Ukrainian and Polish officials spoke at opening ceremonies, which featured a stirring performance by a Ukrainian opera singer based in Poland as a result of Russia's brutal war.

Digital Mapping and Laser Scanning Wat Chaiwatthanaram (2015) by U.S. Department of StateCultural Heritage Center, U.S. Department of State

Continued Partnership

The U.S. is a leading technology and innovation hub, with the public and private sectors committed to working together to develop and apply innovative digital technologies, like LiDAR, photogrammetry and gaming that protect and promote cultural heritage and cultural expression.

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