Research

Religious Monuments in Syro-Palestinian Territory

Rafca Nasr

Kfar-Hilda, Church of Our Lady, the northern wall, Annunciation to the shepherds

The study of religious buildings in the Mediterranean basin cannot be done credibly without the existence of a database that provides the scientific community with an accurate tool to review the patrimony that has survived. It is in this perspective that Rafca Youssef Nasr wishes to initiate a program of scientific indexing and utilization of interreligious buildings in the Syro-Palestinian area: Jewish, Christian and Muslim, while considering their environmental framework (natural or urban). Such monuments have been hitherto regarded as evidence supporting the construction of mutually exclusive, art-historical (e.g. Crusader vs Islamic) narratives, with scarce interest for a deeper understanding of the ways in which religious sites came to be used, experienced, invested with (often multiple) meanings, and, in some instances, even multi-confessionally and cross-religiously shared in their specific geographic, socio-economic, and environmental settings.
The project involves a research tool combining textual and visual information with digital images, architectural drawings, virtual tours, photos and 3D models, among other things. Thanks to this technology of indexing and scientific utilization, historical, archaeological and cultural data on religious sites in the area will be accessible to the relevant scientific community. The proposed digital archive is intended to make the work of art historians easier and enable studies on religious monuments from different perspectives (art historical, historical, anthropological, geographic-environmental). The gathered documentation will contribute to the appreciation and safeguarding of this heritage, which is often poorly documented and at risk of disappearance and destruction.

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