May 17, 2023
In 2022, the AIA awarded a Site Preservation Grant to Preservation Through Education: Protecting Ancient Settlements Through Outreach at Amarna, Egypt. The Site Preservation Grant funds innovative conservation projects that uphold the AIA’s mission to preserve and protect the world’s archaeological heritage for future generations. Grant winners work to preserve sites and create a positive impact on the local community and the discipline of archaeology as a whole.
One year later, we are happy to report Preservation Through Education has been a monumental success. The project focuses on preserving the ancient city of Akhetaten (modern-day Amarna, Egypt), one of the best-preserved ancient settlements in Egypt. Over three years (2022-2024), Preservation Through Education aims to raise awareness of the urgent need to protect the settlement by engaging with residents and local stakeholders through community outreach events at the Amarna Visitor Center (an exhibition space next to the Nile River in El-Till). The project team planned to utilize the unique aspects of Amarna, specifically the non-elite cemeteries, to increase interest in the daily lives of ancient Egyptians and foster a sense of ownership- which will contribute to the long-term preservation of the site.
During the first year, the team held two workshops for school-age children (aged 6-14) and their families at the Amarna Visitor Center; The Boy King Tutankhamun and The Cemeteries of Ancient Amarna. Here, the children practiced archaeological techniques like excavating, identifying, and labeling artifacts, including a replica skeleton. Local archaeologists provided detailed demonstrations for the children to follow. Workshops also explored childhood, health, and social status in ancient Egypt to convey the relevancy of these discoveries to the children’s daily lives. One lecture (The Cemeteries of Amarna) was held for local excavators to discuss the outcomes of the past 14 seasons of excavations. Additionally, the team visited the Beni Amran Primary School to teach the children about archaeological methods and the Amarna settlement.
Preservation Through Education is a remarkable project that combines preservation work with outreach that seeks to engage local communities in the long-term safeguarding of their cultural heritage. The AIA is thrilled to follow Preservation Through Education’s progress as they continue into their second year, and we hope you will follow along for further updates.
Photo: Children engaging in one of the hands-on activities at the Amarna Visitor Center. Courtesy of Gretchen R. Dabbs, PhD