The destruction of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, and the devastating fires at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro and the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris have tragically demonstrated how fragile our cultural heritage is. These and other recent events show us that the protection of cultural heritage begins locally, but concerns all of us.
Cultural heritage is an expression of human creative power and has a significant influence on the formation of national and collective identities – whether the cultural property be immovable, movable, or immaterial. Protecting antiquities from destruction, looting, embezzlement, and theft; making them generally accessible; and preserving them for future generations is a major global challenge. The question that arises is, how does cultural heritage protection function in practice? Which parties or actors are involved? What role do ancient studies, and the "rare subjects" associated with them, play in this?
The proposed project has been created to provide some of the answers to these questions, which are rarely addressed in the social discourse. In this project, information about the backgrounds and interrelations of cultural heritage protection will be presented in an understandable and stimulating way, through which it will become clear how decisive the contribution of ancient studies is to the protection of cultural heritage and how indispensable the knowledge and skills of the researchers who focus on ancient studies are to those efforts. The chosen topic will reveal the interdisciplinary working methods of ancient studies and the ability of research in this field to connect with current, socially relevant topics.
In order to reach the project goals, the project will utilize various analog and digital means of scientific communication. The focus will be on the development of the cooperative game simulation "Taskforce: Saving Antiquities"; a game in which real-world scenarios and decision-making processes that are fundamental for work with cultural assets are simulated. In this way, users are taught complex processes from preservation to restitution in a playful and entertaining way. The game will be designed as a hybrid game: it will be played in an analog version that is supplemented with digital components. A project website will provide additional background information that creates incentives for the players to interact with the different topics and offers the opportunity for players to deepen their knowledge independently.
In its practical implementation, the planned project will benefit in particular from the extraordinarily cooperative structure of Berlin’s ancient studies network. The project will be led by the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) and the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin (HTW), in close collaboration with the Berliner Antike-Kolleg (BAK) und the Ägyptisches Museen of the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz.
"Saving Antiquities" is supported by the Volkswagen Stiftung as part of the program "Weltwissen. Strukturelle Förderung kleiner Fächer" (Förderlinie 2: Wissenschaftskommunikation).