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Landscape change in the Harar region. A) Landsat 5 MSS image of Harlaa and Harar from January 23, 1986 (60 m resolution; image courtesy of NASA/USGS); B) Landsat 5 TM image of Harlaa and Harar from February 20, 1996 (30 m resolution; image courtesy of NASA/USGS); and C) Landsat 8 image of Harlaa and Harar from March 1, 2017 (image courtesy of NASA/USGS)

Research projects

Mapping Africa’s Endangered Archaeological Sites and Monuments (MAEASaM)

Principal investigators: Professor Timothy Insoll, and Post-Doctoral Researcher, Dr Nadia Khalaf.

Based in the University of Cambridge, and with co-investigators in the Universities of Exeter, London, York, Uppsala, Witwatersrand, and the British Institute in Eastern Africa, the MAEASaM project (October 2020 to February 2024) aims to identify and document endangered archaeological heritage sites across Africa using a combination of remote sensing, records-based research and selective archaeological surveys.

It will make records of these sites available in an Open Access geospatial relational database tailored for different interest groups and stakeholders. Past, present and potential future threats to these sites will be identified and assessed, and approaches to enhancing long-term site protection measures and new management policies will be developed with the project’s Africa-based partners and collaborators.

The project will aim to ensure long-term sustainability of the mapping and monitoring components through targeted training of in-country collaborators and other heritage stakeholders. MAEASaM will focus its activities on eight countries in Africa. These are Mali, Senegal, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Botswana. They have been selected to provide a cross-section of different site types and conditions, the diversity of threats to archaeological sites, in-country needs and capacity, and data availability.

The CfIA focus is on Ethiopia.