NNA - The EU-funded ENI CBC MED, iHERITAGE project team members in Lebanon conducted an on-site visit to Byblos’ cultural heritage site on March 20th to review virtual reconstruction elements to be potentially used to develop Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) products.
The team on-site included Mrs. Tania Zaven (Regional Director of north Mount Lebanon/Byblos at the Ministry of Culture - Directorate General of Antiquities), Mr. Sarkis Khoury (Ministry of Culture - Directorate General of Antiquities General Manager), Dr. Julien Chanteau (Senior expert, Louvre Museum), and Dr. Evan Fakhoury (Assistant Professor at the Lebanese American University and Coordinator for Research Program & Living Labs)
Over 11 locations were presented by Dr. Chanteau on-site, each with its own history and archeological significance. The team examined each site and discussed the feasibility of virtual and augmented reality development of said entities.
Dr. Evan Fakhoury elaborated that “The visit gave the experts a clear idea of what is achievable in terms of AR/VR technologies, and it gave me a better idea of the project scale and complexity”. He also added that through such on-site visits “Archeologists, historians, architects, designers and engineers must come together through these site visits in order to accurately translate archeological and historical concepts into cutting edge technological products.”
From her side, Mrs. Tania Zaven highlighted how the purpose of “the iHERITAGE project is to render Byblos accessible and comprehensible to everyone through new technological tools. This will help raise public awareness regarding the importance of our common universal heritage and thus will encourage visitors to protect and promote Byblos”.
The iHERITAGE project aims to support technological transfer and commercialization of new AR/VR tools aimed at enhancing the access to Mediterranean UNESCO cultural heritage through augmented and immersive experiences, by creating cross-border living labs for research and innovation. The project will support collaborations among universities, SMEs, start-ups and spin-offs devoted to the creation of AR/VR/MR products. The project includes 6 countries including Italy, Egypt, Spain, Jordan, Portugal and Lebanon.
iHERITAGE ICT Mediterranean platform for UNESCO world heritage is a strategic project co-financed by 90% by the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme of the European Union for €3,469,510. The Lebanon budget is over €600,000.
The iHERITAGE team in Lebanon includes the project leader Dr. Rachid Chamoun and Dr. Evan Fakhoury from LAU, the Byblos/Jbeil municipality represented by the head of the municipality Mr. Wissam Zaarour, and the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO represented by Mrs. Tala Zein and Mrs. Ramza Jaber. In terms of next steps and ongoing work, the team is conducting regular work sessions to develop the concept and content for the AR/VR products namely, to define the tangible and intangible cultural heritage to feature in these products.
All health and safety precautions were implemented at all times including physical distancing, and face masks.—LAU