The Zamani Project was initiated in 2004, in the University of Cape Town by Prof. Heinz Ruther. The project is not-for-profit and the operating costs are presently funded through the independent “Zamani African Cultural Heritage Sites Trust”. Funds for fieldwork on individual sites have to be found on an ad hoc basis. UNESCO, the World Monuments Fund, the Getty Conservation Institute, the German Archaeological Institute, the Gerda Henkel Foundation as well as individual researchers and academics who have provided funds for a number of projects


The Zamani project captures the spatial domain of tangible heritage by accurately recording dimensions, shapes and positions of its physical manifestations in the form of monuments, architectural structures and rock shelters. The current focus of the project is on Africa. Sites are seen in the context of their physical environment, and, wherever possible, the topography of landscapes surrounding the documented sites is mapped based on satellite images and aerial photography.


The documentation project was initiated to increase international awareness of Africa’s heritage and to provide material for research and education while, at the same time, creating a permanent metrically accurate record of important sites for restoration and conservation purposes. Data generated by the project have been, and are currently, used for conservation interventions in a number of sites.


By creating metrically accurate digital representations of African historical sites, the Zamani Project seeks to provide data for research and education, for restoration and conservation and to increase awareness of tangible cultural heritage in Africa and internationally. Through the documentation of heritage sites the Zamani project aims to make a contribution to the fight against the damage and destruction of sites through war, political unrest, vandalism, art theft, climate change, sea level rising, natural disasters and natural deterioration


The Zamani Project digitally captures spatial data of African heritage sites using laser scanning and GPS technology, photogrammetry, 3D modeling software, Geographic Information Systems and animation software. With these tools, the Zamani team produces 3D models, sections, plans, elevations, panoramas, panorama tours, animations, and interactive virtual worlds that accurately capture the dimensions and architectural intricacies of the site’s physical structures and surrounding topography.

Sites in Lalibela and Axum have been included.


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