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New grant to Heidelberg University

Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur, Nepal. The square was heavily damaged by the earthquake in April 2015. Courtesy of Christiane Brosius

Posted: 26 July 2018

We have awarded a grant to Heidelberg University to document 400 temples, monasteries, and other endangered historical sites in Nepal, many damaged by earthquakes and urban change. All materials will be made available online for free.

The Heidelberg University’s press release (originally posted here):

HCTS professor Christiane Brosius was awarded a grant of €775,000 by the British foundation ARCADIA to document endangered historical sites in Nepal. Over a test period of two years, four hundred temples, monasteries, and other building types will be documented and inventoried.

The project will focus on cataloguing buildings that have been destroyed or damaged by earthquakes and urban change and emphasising the need for their preservation or reconstruction. “The absence of proper documentation and the lack of an accurate register of Nepal’s cultural heritage have severely handicapped the reconstruction of the destroyed buildings after the earthquake in 2015,” states Rohit Ranjitkar, a cooperation partner in the project and one of the leading experts on Nepal’s cultural heritage.

The online database of the “Nepal Heritage Documentation Project,” which will be freely available, will comprise descriptions, pictures, inscriptions, and architectural drawings of the buildings, and will serve as a resource to inform recommendations on how to preserve endangered sites or reconstruct historical buildings. Sixteen specialists from the fields of architecture, anthropology, history, indology, and digital humanities from Heidelberg and Kathmandu will collaborate to achieve this goal.

In Heidelberg, the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) is leading the project in cooperation with the Heidelberg Academy of Science and Humanities, represented by Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels, and the Heidelberg University Library. In Nepal, the chief partners are the Saraf Foundation for Himalayan Traditions and Culture, the Department of Archaeology of the Government of Nepal, the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, and UNESCO Nepal.

Christiane Brosius, the professor for Visual and Media Anthropology at the HCTS, explains that the project “will substantially strengthen Asian and Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University, especially in respect to research on cultural heritage.”

Arcadia is a charitable fund that supports charities and scholarly institutions in preserving cultural heritage, protecting the environment, and promoting open access. Since 2002, the Foundation has awarded more than $500 million in grants to projects around the world. It was founded by Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.