Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10437-018-9280-8 ORIGINAL ARTICLE Museological Approaches to the Management of Digital Research and Engagement: The African Rock Art Image Project Helen Anderson & Elizabeth Galvin & Jorge de Torres Rodriguez Published online: 2 June 2018 The Author(s) 2018 Abstract The African Rock Art Image Project at the inform archaeological practice to use these data collec- British Museum has documented and disseminated c. tions for both scholarly research and community en- 24,000 digital images of rock art from throughout the gagement. Through a critically reflective description of continent, donated by the Trust for African Rock Art the work and challenges of the project, this paper argues (TARA). The images were registered into the British that there are significant benefits to be gained by engag- Museum’s permanent collection and treated as objects in ing digital rock art projects with established museum their own right, not just digital reproductions of objects. thinking and practice. As a wholly born-digital collection, this led to several opportunities and challenges for documentation, dis- Résumé Le projet BAfrican Rock Art Image Project^ semination, and digital humanities outputs, including a du British Museum a permis de documenter et diffuser fully searchable database, social media, website, 3D environ 24.000 images numériques d’art rupestre modelling and printing, and virtual reality, to name a provenant de tout le continent, offertes par few. Increasingly, digital technologies are being used in l’organisation BTrust for African Rock Art^ (TARA). standard archaeological research and practice. From Les images ont été enregistrées dans la collection digital photography to larger 3D modelling/scanning, permanente du British Museum et traitées comme des the volume of data being created by archaeologists is objets à part entière, et non pas seulement comme de increasing exponentially, as is the potential for these simples reproductions numériques. Cette collection outputs to change research and community engagement. entièrement numérique a débouché sur plusieurs But with the massive amounts of data being created, are opportunités et défis pour la documentation et la diffu- researchers documenting and disseminating their data to sion, notamment une base de données entièrement their full potential? Here, traditional museum practices consultable, les médias sociaux, le site Web, la of cataloguing, storing, and public engagement can modélisation et l’impression 3D, et la réalité virtuelle, pour n’en citer que quelques uns. De plus en plus, les technologies numériques sont utilisées dans la recherche et la pratique archéologique. De la photographie : : H. Anderson E. Galvin (*) J. de Torres Rodriguez Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, The British numérique à la plus grande modélisation / numérisation Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B3DG, UK 3D, le volume de données créé par l’archéologue e-mail: EGalvin@britishmuseum.org augmente de façon exponentielle, de même que le potentiel de ces productions à changer la recherche et H. Anderson l’engagement communautaire. Mais avec les quantités e-mail: HAnderson@britishmusem.org massives de données créées, les chercheurs J. de Torres Rodriguez documentent-ils et diffusent-ils leurs de façon optimale? e-mail: JdeTorres@britishmuseum.org 322 Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 Ici, les pratiques muséales traditionnelles de catalogage, communities. Such museological thinking and practice de stockage et d’engagement du public peuvent inform- informed the project about ways to preserve, research, er la pratique archéologique de l’utilisation de ces col- and share Africa’s rock art. Applying traditional institu- lections de données pour la recherche scientifique et tional practices and theories of engagement, preserva- l’engagement communautaire. À travers une description tion, and access to the use and management of digital critique du travail et des défis du projet, cet article technologies in this context has provided some insights soutient qu’il y a des avantages significatifs à obtenir into reciprocal practices with researchers in the field. en engageant des projets d’art rupestre numérique avec The position we propose here is that traditional curato- la pensée et la pratique muséologique. rial approaches to documentation, dissemination, and outreach can be applied to the wider archaeological use of technology in rock art to ensure that collections . . Keywords Digital technology Museum practice are stored, shared, and engaged with to their full Community engagement Rock art potential. The sheer volume of digital data being created by rock Rock Art Catalogues art scholars has the potential to fundamentally change the way the field approaches issues such as documenta- ARAIP is not the first initiative to approach the tion, dissemination, and engagement. From digital cataloguing of rock art images. Rock art websites, such photos to full 3D scans, these outputs help both scholars as TARA and the Bradshaw Foundation, provide useful and local communities to understand and explore this resources for the knowledge and dissemination of Afri- heritage. The African Rock Art Image Project (ARAIP) can rock art but do not constitute comprehensive cata- at the British Museum is one of a number of initiatives logues of images. The largest catalogue is the South established to promote the collation and cataloguing of African Rock Art Digital Archive (SARADA), a project rock art sites throughout the continent, their digital developed by the Rock Art Research Institute at the outputs, and the involvement of African communities University of the Witwatersrand, which comprises c. in the protection of their heritage. 300,000 images and related materials. Other projects In 2013, the British Museum acquired c. 24,000 include the African Archaeological Archive (AAArC) images from the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) in Cologne (c. 60,000 images) or the World Archive of based in Nairobi, Kenya. Covering 20 countries and Rock Art (WARA), based in the Centro Camuno di many of the most important rock art sites throughout Studi Preistorici Italy (c. 150,000 images). Other data- the continent (Fig. 1), the collection provides an instruc- bases are focused on more specific collections, such as tive cross-section of the main styles, chronologies, and the Rock Art Archive of the Database of the Frobenius themes of African rock art, as well as additional images Institute (Frankfurt) which focuses on the early to mid- of landscapes, ethnographic or archaeological materials. twentieth-century rock art image collections of Leo For a period of 5 years, the collection has been de- Frobenius and affiliated scholars (http://www. scribed, catalogued, and incorporated into the British frobenius-institut.de/en/collections-and-archives/rock- Museum online collection, and disseminated through art-archive). Another is the Libyan-Berber inscriptions different websites and social media. Each of these im- online database (LBI) which specialises in rock art ages is registered into the British Museum’s collection, representations in North Africa and the Canary Islands and as such, is treated with equal curatorial care as a that contain Libyco-Berber script (http://www. physical object in the collection. institutum-canarium.org/lbi-project/objectives.php). Museum practice involves understanding which ob- However, ARAIP is the first time that such a cata- logue has been managed by a museum on this scale, a jects to collect, how to store them, and making them available to both the academy and the general public situation which requires a different approach to the way (MacDonald 2006). This is the same in the digital ar- the collection is documented and used. The images chaeology sphere where it is also imperative to under- stored at the British Museum are treated as objects in stand how digital photographs/outputs should be shared, their own right, not just digital reproductions of objects. stored, disseminated and made available to different While other catalogues have been built by organisations Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 323 Fig. 1 The countries covered by the African Rock Art Image Project and the geographical spread of known major rock art sites (images in full colour online) whose main interests are to protect, preserve, and use the obsolescence in terms of software and online mainte- information for research purposes, such as SARADA, nance. Most of the problems regarding accessibility of the role of the British Museum also includes the dissem- these catalogues lie in their origins, as they were never ination of the collection to the general public, world- conceived as a part of a dissemination project and aimed wide. This key difference establishes a diverse set of at a more specific, professional audience. Being part of a strategies, tools, and conceptual approaches about how, museum strategy, the scope of ARAIP is radically dif- and to what purpose, the collection is used. ferent and requires an equally distinctive approach to the Although it is true that a huge amount of information scope of the catalogue and the strategies to make it has been processed and made available online during public. the last decades; the characteristics, accessibility, and information provided by different websites vary sub- Store, Protect, Catalogue: Curating a Digital Collection stantially, especially regarding the contextualization of images. Information provided consists mostly of dates, One of the most immediate expressions of increased locations (often just the country name), reference num- digital technology in archaeology has been the prolifer- bers, and, depending on the database, additional infor- ation of images that are taken, stored, uploaded, and mation such as the probable chronology or the kind of shared throughout the world. The advent of digital cam- original document in the database. As a result of the lack eras has had a huge impact on archaeological fieldwork of contextualization, the aforementioned databases can practices making the process of documentation much be considered useful as repositories of information, but simpler and quicker, but also resulting in the creation of they can be intimidating to the general public and there- thousands of images. This wealth of digital data raises fore mainly used by specialists (di Lernia 2018). More- significant curation issues, not only for museums and over, some catalogues are no longer updated, risking archives (Cunningham 2008), but for archaeologists, 324 Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 who increasingly are the curators of their own fieldwork research and the changes in terminologies and styles of archives. With so much information being created, it describing the objects. raises traditional musicological questions: what is able An imperative part of the project was not just to be collected (MacDonald 2006), stored (Abt 2006), documenting digital objects to harmonise with the catalogued (Roberts 1991), and displayed (Prezosi existing physical object cataloguing standards, but also 2006) and how can this be made usable by scholars to ensure uniformity and long-term digital preservation. and the public (Crooke 2006;Kaplan 2006). From this As such, the project implemented standardised file for- perspective, ARAIP is a pilot project for the British mats, long-term storage solutions, and appointed a Dig- Museum. The cataloguing of the wholly digital collec- ital Preservation Manager who sat within the Informa- tion illustrates some of the challenges faced by mu- tion Services Department at the British Museum to seums (Poyner IV 2010): how to integrate a digital ensure the conservation and storage of the digital col- collection in a cataloguing system conceived for phys- lection was at the highest standard. For full specifica- ical objects, and how to ensure that these digital objects tions of the decisions and implementation of digital are properly stored and curated. cataloguing, storage, and preservation, please see Galvin et al. 2017. The ingestion of the ARAIP collection in the Cataloguing the Digital cataloguing system of the British Museum has followed the guidelines of the documentation department, but as a As one of the oldest museums in the world, the British wholly digital project, presents a unique set of opportu- Museum has continuously modified its cataloguing sys- nities and challenges (Bertacchini and Morando 2013). tems to adapt to new technologies and to make public its Working in partnership with the documentation depart- ment, ARAIP developed a series of cataloguing guide- collections (Pett 2012). The computerised database was started in 1976 and the current cataloguing system, MI+, lines for digital objects based on adapted previous stan- was implemented in 2017, replacing the previous be- dards of documentation and internationally recognised spoke system, Merlin, launched in 2000 (Szrajber 2008: digital and rock art glossaries to increase uniformity of p. 3). Another database, Odin, currently acts as the the records. In some cases, such as the southern African digital asset manager for the British Museum. MI+ and rock art collections, collaborative work has been con- Odin are fully integrated, creating a bilateral system for ducted with other institutions, such as SARADA, to the British Museum’s catalogues (Galvin et al. 2017:p. harmonise search terms and locations geography and 578). The third step of the system is Collection Online to increase searchability and access across the respective (COL), the web version of its collection database databases. (Szrajber 2007) open to the public and currently holding more than 3,500,000 objects. The current cataloguing system of the British Muse- The Challenge of Storage um has to accommodate an incredible variety of objects, materials, places of origin, and cataloguing criteria, and Undoubtedly positive, the increase of digital technolo- be able to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the c. 8 million gies in archaeology also raises some questions about objects in the different curatorial departments in the how the vast amount of photographs and many other Museum. This situation introduces some challenges in digital objects are stored and made available to the the system: for example, it is impossible to store a public. Appropriate storage of images is becoming a thesaurus of every word related to the worldwide scope major issue of debate and the object of an increasing of the Museum, and therefore, terminologies for de- number of initiatives (www.data-archive.ac.uk/home; scribing the objects are developed in-house and added www.tdar.org/about/; archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/or when necessary by curators with final approval of the www.dpconline.org/ -to cite some examples) and publi- documentation staff (Szrajber 2008:pp. 5–6). Another cations (Brin et al. 2013). Digital objects cannot simply problem is the large discrepancy in terms of quality and be stored and neglected: changes in formats can make accuracy of the records (Szrajber 2008: p. 2), because files unreadable, software becomes outdated, and even the original databases were conceived for internal use with a careful storage policy loss of information can only; or the outdated references due to the advance of occur during back up and copying processes. That Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 325 means that even when suitable storage is in place, the public are able to access and understand it is also an data require continuous monitoring and digital curators institutional and disciplinary responsibility. One of the must ensure these objects are properly preserved for criticisms of some rock art databases is that they are future generations. As the digital revolution progresses, simply storehouses and that we should avoid Bsaving the existence of digital objects—not only just images, terabytes of beautiful rock art images in the cloud but but also sound recordings or many documents of the without any context or archaeological background^ (di grey literature (these include publications such as Lernia 2018). Therefore, the role of the website is vital research and annual reports, conference proceedings, to help audiences to contextualise and learn about the field notes, presentations, etc. (see Evans 2015)—will collection across the continent. be a common feature in most museums and archives and For the ARAIP, while the collection of images will require the development of new policies to deal acts as a reference resource for specialists, the with this new situation. contextualization and dissemination of the collec- tion was a critical concern. The goal of making museum content available to the general public via Balancing Storage and Volume a Web-based portal emerged in the mid-1990s and has resulted in the introduction of the term The problems of storage and curation are especially Cybermuseology, into General Museology theory evident in archaeology. Usually only a very small sam- to advance the idea of the efficient use of digital ple of photographs is finally included in archaeological media by museums (Langlais 2005; Leschenko reports and scientific publications, with most of the 2015). General Museum theory refers to the inter- images remaining on personal storage devices, often disciplinary ideas and practices needed to operate a museum, from collections management to the role of without proper cataloguing and monitoring, and no guarantees that the data will be ever available to the museums in society (Preziosi and Farago 2003; world. This potential loss of information is especially MacDonald 2006; Schubert 2009; Message and risky (Conway 2010) as it is usually the only remaining Witcomb 2015). The main goal of Cybermuseology information about the material context in which the is to disseminate information created within a muse- archaeological materials were recovered. In the case of um context using the possibilities provided by Infor- rock art, the fragility of many depictions and their loca- mation and Communications Technology (ICT). The tion in places where political unrest prevents access to prefix Bcyber^ is not limited to the use of the the sites will unfortunately make digital collections a Internet but includes the use of computers for edu- fundamental tool with which to study rock art in many cational purposes, virtual museums, mobile tours, African regions, at least in the short term. Therefore, the digitisation, 3D printing, social media strategies, proper storage and curation of digital data in archaeolo- and others (Leschenko 2015:p. 239). gy is quickly becoming not just something desirable, but In 2015, the British Museum published their Prelim- an ethical responsibility (Brin et al. 2013). The risk is inary Report on the Museum of the future (Motf) initia- even more evident considering the decreasing average tive, (http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_ life of electronic devices (Ashley and Perlingieri 2012: on/museum_of_the_future.aspx), an unprecedented p. 662), meaning that an astonishing amount of archae- engagement process with the public about the ological information could be lost forever in the next Museum’s purpose going forward. In making few decades. Paradoxically, it is the overwhelming vol- recommendations to help improve the visitor ume of data being created that leads to relaxed ap- experience, the role of the digital was firmly placed at proaches in its storage, documentation, and curation the heart of the Motf programme, reviewing the (Henning 2006), that could in turn lead to the loss of Museum’s website and other digital channels and information on an unprecedented scale. assets, with the explicit aim of improving the experience for online users. It is within this Dissemination: Taking the Collection to the World institutional discourse and climate that ARAIP initiated its digital strategies aimed at informing and The systematic organisation and cataloguing of a digital engaging audiences across the world, using innovative collection is clearly important, but ensuring that the and rapidly developing digital technologies. 326 Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 Online Dissemination innovative ways to attract new audiences and engage existing ones (British Museum Annual Review 2016/ Rock art research websites have taken a variety of forms 2017:p. 6). and are dependent not only upon the aims and objectives As such, in writing content for the website, the team of the specific project, but are designed in relation to has tried to present a comprehensive approach to the their target audience, often specialist or academic. Re- collection, based on two main axes: geographical and search by Ross and Terras (2011), into user perspectives, thematic. Geographically, the collection is organised search strategies and the general use of museum digital into three main areas of the continent (Northern, South- resources by scholars has shown that academic users ern, Central/Eastern), with a general overview of the value digital resources highly and use them extensively rock art in that area (see Fig. 2). Web content includes in their research process, with high expectations that more detailed information on the geography of the museums with large collections, such as the British country, a history of rock art research, styles, themes Museum, will disseminate their collection online. Three and chronology; and featuring details of a key site that of the main online rock art collections, SARADA (NRF exemplifies the rock art of the region. 2009), WARA (Anati 2004) and the Frobenius Institute These geographic articles are augmented with extra (Kaneko 2015;(see also Galvin et al. 2017: pp. 573–576 information concerning dating and chronologies, the Kohn 1998) for more information) have been specifi- origins of art in Africa (the most viewed page in 2015 cally designed for, and are demonstrably directed at, the outside the homepage) and techniques of production, to academic and scholarly community. The motivation for improve understanding and to enhance audience expe- these databases is based on the preservation of visual rience. As the project progressed, the transversality re- and textual documents of rock art and in making these quired to study some of the styles, depictions, and themes of the collection has led to a score of entries resources available for the worldwide research commu- nity. However, as outlined above, the scarcity of associ- dealing with more specific aspects of rock art, from ated contextual information is problematic. The lack of camels, chariots, rhinos, and warrior figures to hair- contextualization characterises the databases as reposi- dressing, fishing, landscapes, and Libyco-Berber script tories of data, comprehensible to specialists and experts (Fig. 3). rather than as sites of learning. Indeed, as di Lernia (2018) acknowledges, audiences Therefore, in line with the Museum of the future that are not specialists in rock art research can be initiative, a key intention concerning the website pres- Bfrustrated by the lack of contextual information^ and ence is the contextualisation of the imagery in ways that this project actively and intentionally attempts to abro- inform audiences about the geography, history, archae- gate such a deficiency. Although not an intentionally ology, and anthropology of rock art research academically oriented project, at the time of publication (http://africanrockart.britishmuseum.org). The aim is to the website articles include 190 academic citations on allow the non-specialist to explore rock art from across rock art covering the whole continent, demonstrating the the continent and to make informed observations, judge- project’s commitment to the proper contextualisation ments and comparisons. The proximity of a museum’s and referencing of the images (Fig. 4). collections to its audiences, a global audience, is a Driving online engagement is the issue of accessibil- critical component in the success of a museum (Coffee ity. One of the main aims of this project is to ensure that 2007; Kelly and Fitzgerald 2011; Stein et al. 2013;Falk audiences in local and source communities throughout 2016). The British Museum’s motto of BAMuseum of Africa have the capability to access this collection. The the World for the World^, refers to its aims of putting diversity of internet access across the continent adds to Bthe collection to work for the citizens of the world^ this challenge. Africa has rapidly moved from a ‘mobile (British Museum Annual Review 2004/2005: p. 5). This first’ to Bmobile only^ market (see Ayemoba 2016). is both a responsibility and an opportunity for a digital- Between 2012 and 2015, the cost of smartphones has only collection in terms of audience reach. The Mu- decreased by almost half (GSMA Report 2016:p. 14) seum’s audience is one of the most diverse in the world, and while relatively high-speed internet is available in comprising a huge variety of ethnic, language, educa- many major urban environments, expenditure on data tional, cultural, and religious backgrounds, and increas- can be prohibitively expensive. As such, the success or ingly curators and museum professionals have to find failure of online products in Africa is dependent upon Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 327 Fig. 2 Screenshot from the ARAIP website showing the Introduction to regional rock art information http://africanrockart.britishmuseum.org download speeds and file size (Ayemoba 2016). In light website with highly compressed JPEG images) in coun- of this situation, the project team conducted a survey of tries with the slowest connections. 45 African countries, identifying each country’s engage- While traditional web engagement is important, the ment in social media and average broadband speed. This distribution and immense popularity of social media is study (see Galvin et al. 2017: pp. 587–588) has allowed an immediate and responsive platform through which the project to establish a digital strategy focused on museums can increase dissemination and access to their African audiences. As a result of this study, different collections (Gu 2012; Pett 2012; Taylor and Gibson strategies have been proposed and adopted to facilitate 2017). In 2010, the British Museum was active on just access, i.e., the use of lower resolution images for spe- two social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) with cific social media platforms, and the development of fewer than 50,000 followers in total. It now has accounts low bandwidth (slightly reduced versions for the across 9 social media platforms, with over 1.6 million Fig. 3 Screenshot of ARAIP website showing selection of themes articles http://africanrockart.britishmuseum.org 328 Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 Fig. 4 Website articles published in the African Rock Art Image Project (67 in total) followers (British Museum Annual Review 2014/2015). and as such may be unusable by a large number of Moreover, the huge online presence of the British Mu- audiences. This is an area for concern and future devel- seum—with more than 43.7 million virtual visitors in opment, and collaboration with rock art researchers in 2014—played a key role in publicising information the field is vital for successful linguistic integration and about the project (Pett 2012). The project is active on interpretation (see Challis 2018,this issue). Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and While public learning may contribute to the Tumblr, with regular social media promotion. Using democratisation of heritage, museums need to be self- Google Analytics, it has been possible to analyse the reflexive in the decisions made in terms of the selection ways in which the website is being viewed by internet of information, images, and accessibility. ARAIP is no users, allowing the project team to evaluate popular exception and has had to make judgements on the in- features as well as identify how people are guided to clusion of certain images and data; decisions relating to the site, and how the project might improve and encour- their appropriateness and/or whether such information age web visitors. Social media is the largest single should be in the public domain. As active participants in source of visits to the project website; in some cases, a the democratisation process, we Bare party to creating feature promoted on the Museum’s social media chan- the standards, norms, and methods for how to proceed nels can quadruple same day visits to the site, making when making heritage democratic^ (Rodéhn 2015:p. this a productive and easy way to promote the project, 96). While we advocate in this context that museological new website content and updates. Interestingly, some of practices may be valuable tools for rock art researchers, our most viewed pages are the project’s website articles, the advancement of cultural democracy must necessar- such as Fishing in the Sahara (http://africanrockart. ily be collaborative between, museums, researchers and britishmuseum.org/#/article/gone-fishing) and Camels their engagement with source communities. in Saharan rock art (http://africanrockart. A hope or expectation for an online collection is its britishmuseum.org/#/article/camels-in-saharan-rock- potential to inform source communities about their her- art), suggesting that extended research pieces are a key itage and promote its preservation. While the provision asset to the site. of contextual information and low bandwidth images can contribute to this goal, the relationship between rock art researchers and local communities in heritage man- agement is a critical one for conservation and preserva- Challenges of Online Access tion (see Challis 2018;Deacon etal. 2018;Namono 2018;Quesada 2018, thisissue;).Thisone-to-onerela- The challenges of dissemination are numerous and de- tionship cannot be superseded by a digital presence, but spite attempts to create an accessible and informative the benefits of web-based and social media digital en- website, there are clearly areas that need addressing. For gagement projects can be enormously helpful in dissem- example, despite the motto of being a BMuseum of the ination and for raising awareness. World^, the rock art website is only available in English, Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 329 Outreach: Using Digital Technologies for Engaging existing photographs. Could photographs, some of which Audiences were taken on film in the 1980s and 1990s and later scanned, provide enough data to create usable 3D models Documentation and availability online are essential for for engagement? Without full measurements and scales, audiences to access information about rock art. In addi- the models would not be scientific reconstructions, but tion, harnessing digital technologies for audience en- they could provide enough detail and contextualisation gagement can add tremendously to the understanding for both scholarly and general audience applications. and experience of rock art collections. Photographs of Initial trials were undertaken in 2014. A well-known rock art do not always convey the importance of place engraving of a crocodile in the Messak Setafett (Fig. 5) (Henry 2007: p. 44), but virtual tools can help mitigate was chosen for a number of reasons: firstly, there were this (Lee 2004: p. 34). While catalogues, introductory 22 photos of this one engraving, which, at the time, websites, and social media can direct the audience to provided a greater diversity of angles and details. Sec- gain information about rock art in general, archaeolo- ondly, the images were taken at different points over a gists have the potential to positively engage with the day, which gave better definition and differentiation of public by sharing their digital rock art outputs, such as the shadows and highlights of the engraving. Combin- photogrammetry and virtual representations in addition ing the images in Agisoft Photoscan, the project was to standard photographs. Indeed, Cameron (2007:p.57) able to create a 3D-effect model by plotting the images proposes that Bthe value of the ‘real’ increases when against each other in the X, Y and Z axis. digitized, enhancing its social, historical, and aesthetic With the digital and technological industries changing importance, owing to the resources required in the com- and developing so fast, it was necessary to start with pilation of a 3D rendering, and through distribution^. proven technological outputs to take them one step fur- ther. Even at the outset of the project 3D modelling was Many of these outputs were created using low- or no- cost solutions as well as attempting to be as low- considered a Bmature resource^ as opposed to an exper- bandwidth as possible to engage local communities in imental output in digital terms because of the proliferation areas in Africa where internet speeds may not handle of low cost devises, improved accuracy, and the increase large file outputs. In a time where Bcommunity of open source solutions (Richards et al. 2013:p.315), engagement^ is increasingly becoming a requirement but photogrammetry techniques were dependent upon the of funding bodies and senior management, archaeolo- provision of a suite of born-digital standardised photo- gists can use these scholarly digital outputs to engage graphs. This has changed to the extent that only small new audiences with Africa’srock art. numbers of historical photographs (less than six) are sufficient to provide high quality, accurate results. Com- pleted 3D models were put on Sketchfab (www. sketchfab.com), a free social media site dedicated to 3D Modelling creating and sharing 3D models (Fig. 6). There, audio Photogrammetry and 3D scanning/modelling have been tracks and annotated models allow visitors to understand an effective method of archaeological research for over more about the context of the rock art as well as see fine adecade(Allenet al. 2004; Fritz and Tosello 2007; details that may have been missedinsinglephotographs. Kuper 2013; Bennet et al. 2016; see Urcia et al. 2018; Photogrammetry is not only a good example of an Quesada 2018, in this this issue for current examples of inexpensive engagement strategy (there have been over 3D modelling in rock art). It allows for contextualisation 600,000 views of 3D models posted by the British and understanding that photos alone cannot provide. Museum on Sketchfab) but it also revalorizes old However, these models are usually done through metic- photographs in new ways. The 3D model is not just a ulous and methodical photography and scanning, thus digital surrogate of a physical piece, but rather, this requiring extensive time and equipment on site. Most technology allows for engagement with rock art that museum models are achieved by taking hundreds of would not even be possible on site. With 3D modelling, photographs that can be layered in various software visitors can zoom, flip, read annotations, and listen to programs (such as Agisoft Photoscan). expert audio tracks and to actively engage at a volume As a wholly digital project, it was necessary to be and on a scale that could not be done at all at these sites in experimental to see what could be achieved by using situ. 330 Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 Fig. 5 Engraved crocodile in the Messak Settafet, Libya (British Museum Reg. no. 2013, 2034.3106) (photo: TARA/David Colson with collection landscape photos. Animations highlight- Virtual Reality: Game Pass Shelter, South Africa ing key figures and animals within the artworks were The 3D models created allowed for important context of created to synch with the audio descriptions provided by how the images of one site relate to each other; however, the British Museum. It was built using Unity (www. the project also wanted to ensure that visitors understand unity3D.com), a free, open source game engine. The the importance of landscape and placement of images in output was delivered in the form of a free mobile App the environment. Therefore, the project developed a available in iTunes and Android that could be Virtual Reality (VR) experience for visitors to under- downloaded directly to any smartphone, working with stand context and landscape in rock art research. Build- the internal gyroscope of the mobile. Utilising low-cost ing on the established VR work of the British Museum, cardboard headset technology (such as Google Card- it has proven to be an important tool for museums to board https://vr.google.com/cardboard/), a mobile engage the public with collections as well as phone, and standard earphones, the user can move contextualise objects within their landscapes (Rae and intuitively and freely along a path from the base of the Edwards 2016). escarpment up to the rock shelter to look at the detail of Working with technical providers Soluis Heritage the rock art site and turn to see the immersive views of and the African Conservation Trust, the project devel- the site; audio narration provides further information. A oped a VR tour of Game Pass Shelter, a public rock art desktop version was also made to maximise access to site in South Africa. This site was specifically chosen the output http://vr.africanrockart.britishmuseum.org/ because of its well-known status in the uKhahlamba (Fig. 7). Drakensberg National Park, part of the larger UNESCO Although more accurate models can be created using World Heritage site in the region, coupled with the full virtual reality headsets, such as Occulus Rift (Rae existing security, monitoring and protection the visitors and Edwards 2016), the project did not want cost, inter- net bandwidth speeds or access to the headset technol- centre in the area could provide. Rock art is extremely susceptible to damage by both natural and human-made ogy to act as a barrier. Virtual reality allows visitors to events, and our responsibility on the project lies in the understand the context in which the rock art is placed in protection of rock art sites. As such, the project did not the landscape. Additionally, it gives visitors the chance want to create an easily downloadable virtual model of to virtually travel to sites that would otherwise not be an unprotected site that could lead to its destruction by able to be reached, due to distance or conservation people with nefarious intentions. reasons (Milekic 2007: p. 370). By using cardboard The immersive experience combined 360° photo- technologies and mobile phones, it also allows for a graphs and 3D models of two of the main tableaus made greater access to the collection to those who cannot using the previously mentioned techniques combined afford or get access to full VR headsets. Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 331 Fig. 6 3D model of a crocodile from Libya with annotations made by ARAIP on Sketchfab https://skfb.ly/FoRI 3D Printing how engagement could be brought back into the phys- ical sphere and used 3D printing to help visitors under- As an entirely digital project, online and technical out- stand the digital objects. puts were the main form of engagement. However, it This technology has changed the way audiences can was important to think of how ARAIP could bring the engage with the collections. 3D printing can give depth, digital back into the physical museum. The project’s context and dimension to objects that cannot be experiments with 3D modelling have enabled 3D print- displayed using traditional museological methods ing; an invaluable tool in the case of rock art to express (Anderson and Antoine 2017). By using these new the idea of three-dimensionality in a collection that is, by technologies, curators are able to give a greater breadth origin, two-dimensional. The costs of 3D printing can be and depth of the story of this object. Experimentation prohibitive, but increasingly these costs are falling and with 3D printing of some of the models proved a suc- cost-effective options will be a key catalyst among cessful way for public engagement. Working with museum and heritage institutions driving widespread ThinkSee3D (www.thinksee3D.com), a company adoption. Nevertheless, the project was eager to explore specialising in 3D printing for the heritage and natural Fig. 7 Screenshot of the Game Pass Shelter VR app and desktop interactive http://vr.africanrockart.britishmuseum.org/ 332 Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 history industry, several 3D prints were created using a professional colour gypsum/acrylic 3D printer (a ProJet ×60). This 3D printing technology was selected to rep- licate the rock art as it is particularly good at simulating the texture and colour of stone surfaces (Figs. 8 and 9). These 3D prints proved especially useful for outreach programmes for differently abled visitors to the Muse- um. Working with the Access and Equality Manager at the Museum, handling and touch sessions were held for blind and partially sighted visitors on the theme of rock art: one on southern African rock art (tying in with Fig. 9 3D print of engraved eland, South Africa (Right). (photo: several concurrent exhibitions on southern Africa at E. Galvin) the Museum) and the other on Saharan rock art (Fig. 10). The use of gypsum in the printing process gave a stone- Undoubtedly, by the time this paper reaches publication like feel, which added to the accuracy. Supplementary a new technology or open source platform will be de- informative models were printed, including 3D prints of veloped that makes digital engagement easier or more the animals represented in the engravings and Breduced exciting. Adapting to this rapid change in technology noise^ raised bas-relief outlines of the engravings. This and discontinuity is a continual challenge for digital allowed for blind and partially-sighted visitors to better projects. understand the positioning and body-type of the animals This is exemplified in three free public lectures at the represented in the rock art site. British Museum given by rock art specialists in 2015 and broadcast live via Periscope with a Q&A session via Twitter (Fig. 11). Developed at the time of the lectures, The Challenge of Obsolescence Periscope was at its height of popularity, and broadcast- ing live from a mobile device was still relatively novel Both a great opportunity and challenge of digital outputs (Pierce 2015a). Periscope allowed for free, low band- for audience engagement is the fast paced nature of the width, worldwide access to the lectures and reactive industry. Digital technologies, especially social media discussion from across the world, and the three afore- and online outputs for engagement and education, show mentioned lectures provided a good example of this that audiences can be inconsistent in which platforms with participants from Europe, the Americas, Africa, are used, and shifts caused by disruptive technologies and Asia asking questions to the guest speakers. At the can change overnight (DePietro 2013). Brand new tech- time of broadcast, Periscope was a disruptive technolo- nology can be completely obsolete in a matter of years gy that was rapidly becoming popular; the founders (Swaminathan 2011), if not months. For example, some announced in August 2015 it had 10 million viewers software, platforms, and social media that the project watching 40 years’ of live-streamed video a day was able to use in Year 4 did not exist in Year 1. (Beykpour et al. 2015). Periscope used relatively inex- pensive technologies including a smartphone and a Twitter account, and provided the opportunity for worldwide audiences to engage with the collection, and who might never be able to visit the Museum in person. However, later in 2015 FacebookLive was in- troduced, and the juggernaut of 1.5 billion Facebook users quickly eclipsed Periscope as a go-to broadcast- live technology with the sheer number of views and user numbers (Pierce 2015b). The British Museum as a whole shifted to FacebookLive in the past 2 years to reflect this, demonstrating how disruptive technologies can be harnessed for immediate use, but not necessarily Fig. 8 3D print of the Fighting Cats, Libya. (photo: E. Galvin) Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 333 Fig. 10 Blind and partially sighted visitors touch a 3D print of an engraving from Twyfelfontein Ui- Ais Namibia during a British Museum rock art access event. (photo: E. Galvin) for a long-term strategy. Now, with the addition of projects are not losing excessive amounts of money with YouTubeLive to the mix (Pierce 2015c), the challenges experimentation. It is this experimentation and adapt- of choosing which technology will last long term, and ability that proves a digital project successful. accepting that working with one may have implications in the near future presents a very real, and complex Lessons for the Future challenge. Because of this, digital projects need to be prepared The use of digital technology in the study of African to quickly adapt and change their outputs based on rock art has brought many traditional museological several factors that are outside of their control. For challenges to the forefront, such as accessibility, example, in 2015, the project used SoundCloud to nar- preservation/ conservation, community engagement, rate information about particular rock art sites, embed- understanding audiences, and outreach, to name a few. ding the audio in the website and providing the oppor- The themes of these challenges are felt across the con- tunity to share on social media. However, as with many tinent and in a variety of contexts, from pure archaeo- new start-ups, SoundCloud faced an economic crisis in logical fieldwork settings to database management thou- 2017 that called into question the future of the site sands of miles away. (Parham 2017). In response to this threat, the project The use of new technologies has created several dia- transferred the audio files to Sketchfab to act as a narra- metrically opposed challenges that require new and ever- tive accompaniment to the interactive 3D models. While changing creative solutions. Digital technologies have the future of SoundCloud is still unknown, the capri- both increased access and awareness for the preservation cious nature of digital technology requires projects to of rock art sites, but also conversely, can lead to damage adapt and act responsively. and destruction if sites have too many visitors without It is impossible to accurately predict such a rapidly proper regulation (Deacon et al. 2018, this issue). High- changing and evolving industry, but if the ultimate goal resolution outputs, such as 3D scans and other digital is maximising engagement and education, projects need work, can lead to further study and advancement of to harness the popularity and novelty of a platform while research; however, it also can contribute to widening the it lasts (Grove 2011), even if it does not end up being the digital divide as local and source communities in Africa long-term agreed output. Despite this, fortunately, many do not have the broadband and technological capacity to digital outputs and platforms are free or low-cost, so access it (Challis 2018; Namono 2018;Quesada 2018, 334 Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 Fig. 11 Professor Benjamin Smith (University of Western Aus- that was broadcast live via Periscope, then later put on YouTube tralia) giving a free lecture B80,000 Years of Rock Art Production https://youtu.be/B1Xa5IuHVnY in Southern Africa^ at the British Museum on 21 September 2015 this issue). Databases can provide easily researchable data scope of information with limited resources, translating sets for study, but often these are only published in English, research (both linguistically into local languages, and or another European language, which can limit its reach colloquially in making language choice accessible to and even potentially alienate local communities who speak non-scholars), and how this technology can be accessed alternate languages, something the ARAIP project team by local and source communities. From DStretch to are acutely aware of, as are the AAArC team and others photogrammetry to social media, these technologies (Lenssen-Erz et al. 2018,diLernia 2018, this issue). have proven invaluable to the advancement of African Digital Humanities projects have been criticised for rock art research, to both scholarly and general audi- being elitist, necessarily requiring generous funding, ences alike. But it requires a fundamental shift in ap- and thus the domain of only a few major institutions proach: digitization and the use of digital technologies is (Berry and Fagerjord 2017: p. 248). For museums with not a destination, but rather a long journey that is going limited and diminishing resources, responding to the to be filled with several unavoidable pitfalls. Databases rapidly changing digital market is challenging. need continued curation, scans need updating and back- Cognisant of these challenges, the aim has been to up, social media needs to be posted regularly and gen- capitalise on this position, to explore the digital possi- erate followers to be effective. bilities and how low cost or no cost digital solutions can Digital collections are requiring curators to re- be utilised to present and promote the collection; and to conceive traditional museological practices in terms of share experiences with other institutions. curation, preservation and audience engagement, while These points are not to discourage the use of new rock art researchers are required to act as curators of digital technologies, but rather encourage the applica- their own digital collections, both of whom can benefit tion of traditional museum theory in these instances. An from the digital platforms available for audience en- important and unexpected outcome from this project has gagement, locally and globally. The advantage of these been the finding that traditional curatorial practices, in disciplinary adjacencies is both significant and substan- association with digital technologies, may go some way tial for future collaboration. Only by encouraging open to facilitating engagement with, and for, rock art re- access and sharing of successful, and even not so suc- search and rock art researchers in Africa. This includes cessful, outputs can the field truly harness the potential carefully and methodically thinking about storage, intu- of these technologies in generating interest, preservation itive and methodical cataloguing, audience reach, the and research in Africa’s rock art traditions. Afr Archaeol Rev (2018) 35:321–337 335 Acknowledgements The Authors would especially like to thank Communities. http://africabusinesscommunities. The Arcadia Fund, who have generously supported the African com/features/africa-has-moved-from-mobile-first-to-mobile- Rock Art Image Project, the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) only-market.html. Accessed 02 August 2017. who donated the collection, and Dr. Lissant Bolton, Keeper of the Bennet, I., Devlin, G., & Harrington, C. (2016). Corca dhuibhne Department of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas and Dr. John 3D. Archaeology Ireland, 30(2), 17–20. Giblin, Head of Africa at the British Museum for their support. Berry,D.M., &Fagerjord,A.(2017). Digital humanities: Knowledge This project could not have been successful without the existing and critique in a digital age. Cambridge: Polity Press. work and collaborative scholarship of many rock art projects and Bertacchini, E., & Morando, F. (2013). The future of museums in the databases throughout the world, and especially that of Professor digital age: New models for access and use of digital collections. David Pearce, Azizo Da Fonseca, and all staff and researchers at International Journal of Arts Management, 15(2), 60–72. SARADA and the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of Beykpour, K., et al. (2015). Periscope, by the numbers. Medium,12 Witwatersrand. Additionally, the Authors would like to thank all August 2015. https://medium.com/periscope/periscope-by- the attendees, presenters, and participants of the BAfrican Rock the-numbers-6b23dc6a1704. Accessed 02 September 2017. Art: Research, Digital Outputs and Heritage Management^ con- Brin, A., McManamon, F. P., & Niven, K. (2013). Caring for ference held at the British Museum in November 2016, from digital data in archaeology: A guide to good practice. which the idea of this entire publication came from. Oxford: Oxbow Books. British Museum (2005). Report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2005. London: The British Museum. https://www. 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