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12 December 2022

December 2022 marks the end of the second module of the International School of Cultural Heritage – ISCH, the professional training and exchange programme for professionals in the cultural heritage field. The 2022 edition focuses on technologies for the conservation, care and promotion of the archaeological heritage.

Coming after an intense online programme, the second module of ISCH 2022 started last October and involved twentythree professionals coming from seven differnt Mediterranean countries (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and North Macedonia) in a series of fieldworks to be developed in Italy, in collaboration with experts and professionals of Italian cultural centres of excellence. Such fieldworks lasted from three up to eight weeks, and brought our participants to work and research in Italian museums, cultural centres and archaeological sites. Last week, our participants met the team of the Foundation and representatives of the Italian cultural institutions that have hosted them to report on their fieldworks and present the projects that will follow the professional collaborations set up by the Foundation through ISCH 2022.

In fact, the Foundation has been able to involve many Italian institution in the programme, whose main aim is that of stimulating international cooperation and professional exchanges of best practices for the care, management and promotion of the cultural heritage. The Institute of Sciences for Cultural Heritage of the Italian National Council for Research- Istituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISPC – CNR), the Center for Cultural Heritage Technology of the Italian Institue of Technology – Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT – CCHT@Ca’ Foscari),  the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics – Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) have been involved as main scientific partners of ISCH 2022, but many more are the institutions that have supported the research and work of ISCH participants: the State Body for Archeaology, Fine Arts and Landscape in Chieti and Pescara – Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per le province di Chieti e Pescara, the Archaeological Park of Ercolanum, the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, the Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia, the Foundation Brescia Musei, the Foundation Museo Egizio e Civita Mostre e Musei association and Società Cooperativa Culture – CoopCulture.

Although the technologies for the care, management and promotion of the archaeological heritage were the main focus of the 2022 programme, the work and research of the ISCH 2022 participants revolved around a variety of topics and scientific domains: from archiving and documentation to propotion and virtual restoration. In fact, it is one of the main characteritics of ISCH that of being a multidisciplinary programme, and that of help spreading transversal competences among different professional areas. Furthermore, we are glad that the collaborations set up by the Foundation for the development of the second module of ISCH 2022 have eventually led to a series of new international projects that will involve many different institutions and that will nurture and strenghten the international networks of cultural professionals that the Foundation has built in the last years.

Working with experts at ISPC CNR, Hristijan Talevsky (North Macedonia), Hassan Hajjali (Lebanon), Asma Ameziane (Morocco) and Najati Fitiani (Palestine) have focused on digital cataloguing practices, on new systems of interaction design, on techniques, tools and methodologies for virtual restorations in archaeological sites. Mahera Ryad Hachem (Lebanon) e Raed Jalal Mahmoud Khalil (Palestine) have workied with employees at Soprintendenza SABAP per le province di Chieti e Pescara on how to use new technologies for the reconstruction, research and restoration of archaeological heritage. Focusing instead on new techniques and technologes for underwater archaeology and on new tools to make archaeological sites more inclusive and their programme more participated: Maher Abd El Hafeez Mohammad Almareyn (Jordan) e Valentina Todoroska (North Macedonia) with Archaeological Park of Campi Flegrei; Amro Moustafa Abd El Hamid (Egypt) con Archaeological Park of Ercolanum; Hamzeh Jarajrh (Jordan) con Archaeological Park of Colosseum and Nikola Hristovski (North Macedonia) with Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia.

Experts of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) have helped Hadeer Mahmoud (Egypt), Mohamad Mahmoud Mohamd Atoom (Jordan) and Aboukacem Chebri (Morocco) apply recent digital technologies and nuclear physics discoveries in the cultural heritage field, while Bassem Raouf Mostafa Bahaaeldin (Egypt) at Foundation Brescia Musei, Basma Mohamed Ahmed Ali Selim (Egypt), Rhind MIchel Skaff (Lebanon) at Civita Mostre e Musei association, Mohammed Gamal El Sayed (Egypt) at Foundation Museo Egizio, and Leena Albakkar (Jordan) and Iyad Njoum (Palestine) at CoopCulture have focused on the best practices to make the archaeological heritage and museums more3 accessible to a wider public, particularly investigating on this regard the impact of digital storytelling tools or Interactive Media Applications.

Finally, the project developed by Sali Islam (North Macedonia), Faouzi Ghozzi (Tunisia) and Emna Ben Azouz (Tunisia) at the Center for Culture Heritage Technology of the Italian Institute of Technologies (IIT CCHT@Ca’ Foscari) examine how to use technologies to counteract clandestine excavation and illegal trafficking of cultural assets. These filedworks in particular have turned into concrete collaborative projects, involving, along with the foundations and the ISCH participants, many international partners. In fact, these participants have been abe to apply what they have learned in Italy in specific archaeological sites of their own countries, identifiying illegal excavation traces in the Fundus Turri archaeological site in Tunisia, or to list of the illegaly trafficked cultural assets of Tunisia and North Macedonia in an official Red List document.

It is indeed another great result for the Foundation and its team the fact that the ISCH fieldworks have worked so fruitfully for the internationalisation of the Italian cultural system and of the best practices that charactierise it.