About the Project

The project attempts to capture the spatial domain of heritage, with a current focus on Africa, by accurately recording its physical and architectural structures , their dimensions and their positions. 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.

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, Cameroon, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Algeria, and South Africa as well as in Abu Dhabi and Jordan. 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.

The Zamani Project was initiated in 2004 in the Geomatics Division of the University of Cape Town and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from 2004 until 2012. Presently the project is funded through the independent “Zamani African Cultural Heritage Sites Trust", which was established by the Philanthropist and UCT Alumni Duncan Saville.

This project was developed out of years of heritage documentation activities by the project's Principal Investigator, Heinz Rüther. The Zamani group comprising of three Scientific Officers, four to eight temporary assistants and interns and the Principal Investigator is the umbrella which manages and executes the documentation project.

The spatial data acquired by the Zamani group is made available to subscribed Institutions worldwide and augmented by with contextual non-spatial data by ALUKA [www.aluka.org].

The intellectual property policy with respect to the data on this adheres to the same rules and principles as the Aluka policy. It is especially important that the data may only to be used for education and research and, on special permission for restoration and conservation projects, they may not be used for commercial purposes.

In addition to traditional intellectual property laws such as copyright law, Aluka recognises that existing and emerging laws pertaining to national cultural heritage can apply to materials such as traditional songs, poetry, or art. In many cases, where these laws exist, they are of recent vintage and precedents are thus limited as to how they would apply to a project such as Aluka. In such cases, Aluka endeavours to seek guidance from the appropriate local authorities as to how to comply with these laws.