Ethiopian Heritage Digital Atlas

The Ethiopian Heritage Digital Atlas (EHDA), financed by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, comprises the development of an English-language web-based monument information system that aims to enhance Ethiopia's cultural preservation. It includes the monitoring of archaeological sites, the observation of the antiquities trade, and the scientific documentation of Ethiopia's cultural heritage. The system, designed jointly with the Ethiopian Antiquities Authority (ARCCH) and Addis Ababa University (AAU) and in cooperation with the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), includes the function of a systematic national register of monuments, focusing on northern Ethiopia.

The project runs until the end of 2024 and builds on a three-month implementation phase. During this phase, existing software components were adapted to the country-specific requirements of Ethiopia and the first data sets on important cultural sites in northern Ethiopia (Tigray region) were entered.

The preservation of the cultural heritage of northern Ethiopia is acutely threatened by the ongoing political conflict. The project responds to this current crisis: the various software components of EHDA enable long-term monitoring of sites in order to observe and evaluate changes at the site via remote diagnosis, not only due to the effects of war, but also due to infrastructural measures or natural disasters (e.g., due to increasing precipitation as a result of climate change). This allows for the planning or initiation of appropriate protective measures on site.

EHDA is designed to systematically record various information on cultural heritage sites, monuments, and objects and to make them visually accessible via a geographic information system (GIS). Thus, sites and other monuments can be managed according to conservation/restoration features, touristic aspects as well as scientific criteria. The system is linked to a photo tool that enables a description of the photos in its meta-data, to aerial and satellite photographs, museum, and art trade databases as well as a comprehensive collection of research and factual data on cultural heritage.

EHDA also incorporates research and restoration data collected by the University of Jena and the DAI in a cooperation of more than ten years of research in northern Ethiopia. The Ethiopian project partner integrates information collected on site and via digital media on relevant cultural sites in the region, including images of the sites, museums, and their collections.

workshops, presentations and lectures

21.06.2023 EHDA-Workshop in Jena

23.06.2022 EHDA-Workshop in Jena


project manager in Jena

Prof. Dr. Norbert Nebes

Advisory Member: Dr. Wolbert Smidt

project partner

Addis Ababa University (AAU)

Project manager in Addis Ababa: Dr. Mulugeta Feseha

Title image: The ancient city of Mārib | © Iris Gerlach

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