Bits To Protect: The Use Of The British Museum’s African Rock Art Image Project As A Tool For Safeguarding Rock Art Heritage In Somaliland

Lightning Talk
Jorge De Torres, The British Museum, UK, Elizabeth Galvin, The British Museum, UK

In 2013 the British Museum launched the African Rock Art Image Project, created to catalogue, curate and disseminate over 20,000 images from 19 countries throughout the African continent. One of the main objectives of the project is to raise awareness about the fragility of rock art and the need to take measures to protect this invaluable legacy of Humankind. The project follows an open content policy for the images stored in the collection, complemented by a web site with a comprehensive contextualization of African Rock Art and disseminated throughout the wide range of digital platforms on which the British Museum is present.

In some cases, the African Rock Art Image Project has been used effectively as an educational and training tool for the African Heritage specialists. That is the case with Somaliland, self-declared independent from Somalia since 1991, which combines a prolonged political stability, a rich rock art heritage and one of the best internet networks in Africa. In this context, the African Rock Art Image Project catalogue provides an excellent platform on which to increase the knowledge about these archaeological sites and develop a progressive concern about them, their cultural significance and their need for protection and respect. This brief talk presents some practical examples to show how these objectives can be achieved, as well as the challenges of digital dissemination in a region like Somaliland.

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