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Thousands of years ago, the Phoenician and Nabataean civilizations asserted themselves as a people of remarkable cultural sophistication, developing alphabets that spread across the region and generating an important epigraphic and artistic wealth. Today, their surviving texts date back to the end of the second millennium BCE and portray mysterious alphabets from languages that have not been spoken for thousands of years. Time is slowly corroding such inheritance, however, and these Phoenician and Nabataean treasures are often neglected by the populations that now inhabit their homes in Lebanon and Jordan.
Between 2012 and 2014, the MEDINA project will bring these ancient texts back to life in museums in Jordan and Lebanon through a series of research, education, and dissemination activities. Funded by the European Union’s Mediterranean crossborder cooperation programme, ENPI CBC MED, MEDINA will use the expertise of an international team of partners to promote knowledge and understanding of these inscriptions particularly within Lebanese and Jordanian populations.
The MEDINA team believes that there is much to gain from a better understanding of these ancient cultures. Unfortunately, a lack of available information and of interest in epigraphy have made it hard for people, especially younger generations, to develop an appreciation for this cultural heritage. MEDINA will strive to overcome these challenges by making information more widely available and presenting it in a way that allows people to find connections between these ancient cultures and their own.
MEDINA considers museums to be an integral part of cultural heritage conservation as places of presentation and explanation of artefacts. It therefore aims to improve their communication means on the subject. Through innovative and thematic museum exhibits, MEDINA will present the inscriptions in a way that helps young people and adults relate to the cultures and understand how these ancient languages have shaped their own. By raising awareness and generating interest in these texts, MEDINA hopes to encourage an effort within communities to preserve these valuable pieces of heritage.
Courses for students, researchers and museum personnel, as well as educational activities for school children in Lebanon and Jordan will be provided as part of the training and education plan. All activities will make use of the project’s online resources, including the Digital Archive for the Study of pre-Islamic Arabian Inscriptions (DASI), which is the University of Pisa’s existing online epigraphy database, the MEDINA project website, and an online virtual museum, which will highlight the collections of the Beirut National Museum and the Museum of Jordanian Heritage. Through these online resources, both experts and the general public will be able to access the texts in an interactive way.
The cross-border cooperation dimension of MEDINA is supported by a consortium of five partners across four different countries: The University of Pisa (Italy), Yarmouk University (Jordan), GAIA Heritage (Lebanon), the Institute of Ancient Near East Studies (IPOA) at the University of Barcelona and MAGO Production (Spain). Together, these partners provide expertise in archaeology and research, cultural heritage development, and design.nts, apart from the creation of digital catalogues available also on paper.
The main objective of MEDINA project is to promote through innovative means, the knowledge and dissemination of Phoenician and Nabataean inscriptions preserved in the major museums in Lebanon and Jordan.
The general objectives of MEDINA project include:
– Participate in increasing knowledge exchanges concerning the cultural heritafe of Ancient Near East knowledge in the Mediterranean Basin.
– Promote the use of new technologies and innovative tools for the promotion and accessibility of Mediterranean cultural heritage.
Parallel to this, the project will focus on :
– Training the local personnel, so as to involve in the project as many local people as possible, and help them learn new strategies and innovative tools for the promotion of their heritage from the point of view of culture and tourism;
– Promotion of MEDINA portal as didactic tool in schools for the education of the young generations;
– Training of students, researchers and museum personnel, in order to have a common understanding of best practices and procedures of digitalization and dissemination of cultural heritage;
– Promotion of the most important Lebanese and Jordanian museums through the installation of multimedia points, apart from the creation of digital catalogues available also on paper.