Aliaa Ismail, a 26-year-old Egyptian Egyptologist, is training locals in Luxor on how to protect their heritage using digital preservation technologies. She’s not just the director at the training center for 3D scanning and documentation, but also the on-site manager of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative. The project is expected to change documentation of history as we know it today.
The initiative that’s being run under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, is a result of its collaboration with the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation in Spain, and the University of Basel in Switzerland. The project aims to preserve the tombs in the Theban Necropolis in Luxor’s West Bank by having digital records of their current state. This is done by using 3D scanning methods that help scholars understand the surfaces they’re studying. By scanning a wall for instance, the documentation won’t just record how it looks like, but the surface of the wall, its texture and all the minor details you can’t see will be recorded as well. By having a permanent digital record of the antiquities and tombs, we’ll be able to monitor their deterioration over time. This will enable conservators to protect them and will also allow historians to understand more complex historic data.
The project is currently focusing on the documentation of the tomb of Seti I, one of the Pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. He was the father of Ramses II and the son of Ramses I. The tomb is one of the most famous tombs in the Valley of the Kings, as it’s well known for being the most decorated one. It’s sometimes called “Belzoni’s Tomb” since it was first discovered in 1817 by the Italian archaeologist Giovanni Battista Belzoni.
Ismail, who double majored in Architectural Engineering and Egyptology in the American University of Cairo, has already started training locals on how to use these technologies to preserve their own heritage. Having a young Egyptian woman, like Ismail, with a leading role in such a project is truly inspiring. She’s a true example of a passionate and dedicated hard worker that we should be proud of. Not because she’s representing her country and serving it in one of the best ways possible, but because she has also managed to gain that amount of knowledge and expertise at a very young age, allowing us to celebrate such an achievement.