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Posted by on Mar 10, 2010

Zamani Project: Documenting African Cultural Heritage

The Zamani Project is an

attempt to capture the spatial domain of heritage, with a current focus on African heritage, by accurately recording its physical and architectural nature and dimensions. Sites are seen in the context of their physical environment and landscapes surrounding sites are documented based on satellite and aerial imagery, wherever possible. The documentation project was initiated to increase international awareness of African heritage and provide material for research while, at the same time, creating a permanent metrically accurate record of important sites for restoration and conservation purposes.

The project is based on state-of-the art data acquisition and presentation technology which are used to generate Geographic Information Systems, 3D computer models and other spatial data. The data are captured during, often complex and difficult, field campaigns of the project team. The team has completed documentation work in Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa. Further documentation work is planned for other African sites.

The heritage collection is conceptualised as an integrated and interactive model, in which contextual data are closely linked to spatial data. It is the vision of the documentation project that the Zamani Project will not only be used as an information source but that the spatial data and representation of the sites will form the basis for additional site documentation and contribute to site management.

It is a project developed by our colleagues at the University of Cape Town’s Department of Geomatics, most notably Dr. Heinz Ruther. I wish them all the best in their attempts to document Africa’s incredible cultural heritage.

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  1. I am a profesor at Addis Ababa University. I found your attempt interesting and useful. Please post me on your development and provide me with the requirement on how to access the existing data for eduactional pruposes.

    • Hello there, sir. Very happy to hear you are interested in these materials. I wanted to mention a few possible resources for you at Addis Ababa University that might be of interest for your research and teaching.

      1. For the Zamani Project, you can use these materials for educational purposes. Just go to, click on a location, and scroll down to see the materials associated with this location.
      2. You can also find some of these same materials on at, which is a resource offered free of charge to universities in Africa. There are many different kinds of materials here, including images, maps, 3D models, etc. It might be easier to watch a short video to see what is available.

      Does this help at all? If not, please do let me know. I do hope all is well in Addis!

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