The Digital Reconstruction of Songo Mnara, Tanzania

Saturday, January 5, 2013: 3:10 PM
Oak Alley Room (Sheraton New Orleans)
Jeffrey Fleisher, Rice University
Stephanie Wynne-Jones, University of York
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Songo Mnara is one of the most impressive urban sites on the eastern African coast, with exceptionally well-preserved architectural remains and a short occupation during the 14th-16th centuries AD. Ongoing archaeological research at the site has produced a dense set of digital materials, including laser scans of standing ruins, topographic DEMs, and digitized plans of archaeological features and artifact distributions. These data offer a unique snapshot of a crucial period in Swahili history, and the possibility of digitally reconstructing the site to study visual, spatial, and object patterns.  The digital reconstruction will serve as an interactive research tool to investigate how spatial practices were made meaningful at the site, and how people may have experienced life in the town.  This paper will discuss progress on this project, and the research, teaching, and heritage issues that it can address.