Digital Apamea is both an actual and virtual exhibition in which digital technology is employed to reconstruct the ancient 4th century synagogue mosaic floor at Apamea on Orontes in Syria.
The synagogue was built in 392 CE (AD). Shortly thereafter it was intentionally destroyed at a time when Roman tolerance yielded to Byzantine intolerance and anti-Semitism per the edicts issued by the emperor Theodosius the Second. Two subsequent basilicae were built over the site of the synagogue. These churches incorporated the former synagogue foundations into the latter structures; the synagogue’s mosaic floor (with Greek donor inscriptions) being buried intact in an act of Damnatio Memoriae. Apamea’s synagogue remained unknown to the world until 1934.
Thereafter the mosaics were detached from context and divided between various stakeholders. Today we can recreate the floor on account of digital technology.
Digital Apamea tells the story of multi-culturalism in Roman Syria, hatred under Byzantine rule, contested space, the archeology and architecture of Late Antique synagogues and churches, the history of mosaic execution, digital technology and its use for archeologists (notably as tool to monitor and capture images of illegal excavation at site).
Digital Apamea also explores two artistic legacies: the on-going tradition of Romano-Byzantine mosaic design in Ravenna and also an initiative by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Mabada, Jordan. In the revered city of Madaba, the Patriarchate together with CARITAS runs the “Living Mosaic Project” to train Iraqi refugees from Mosul as mosaicists.
Digital Apamea at CHNT Visual Heritage 23 shares a virtual gallery with visitors and allows the participants to experience what would otherwise be the physical exhibition (2019, Cambridge (UK), Ravenna, Cerveno, Cherasco (Italy)). It also includes video, presentation and Virtual Reality (VR) experience for all ages.
Digital Apamea © 2018 Finalist: International Symposium on Cultural Heritage Conservation and Digitalisation, Tsinghua University, Beijing 2018
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