Rome Exhibition and Colloquium, September 2016


Julfa Cemetery Digital Repatriation Project: 1-day Conference and Exhibitions

Date: Friday 23 September 2016

Venue: Soap Factory, Via degli Argonauti 16, 00154 Roma

The former Soap Factory is in Garbatella, 500m from Garbatella Metro station. It has on-site parking.


10.00 Opening session

Welcome from Professor Wayne McKenna, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Australian Catholic University;

Welcome from H. E. Dr Mikayel Minasyan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the Holy See;

Harold Short: Introduction to the Colloquium and the Project

10.40 Argam Ayvazyan * Julfa’s khachkars and other funerary monuments: Two decades of photography

11.40 Coffee/Tea

12.00 Hamlet Petrosyan * Culture and Iconography of Jugha’s Khachkars

13.00 Lunch & introductory viewing of exhibition

14.30 Welcome from member of the Armenian Apostolic clergy in Rome

14.40 Judith Crispin * Julfa Cemetery Digital Repatriation Project: Origins, development and goals

15.30 Drew Baker * 3D visualisation in the Julfa Cemetery project: challenges past, present and future

16.20 Coffee/Tea

16.40 Endangered cultural heritage: Julfa Cemetery and beyond * Round table discussion, chaired by Harold Short

17.20 Close of colloquium

17.20-18.00 : group viewings of immersive 3D exhibitions

18.00-19.00 : wine & cheese reception

Note on interpretation: Simon Maghakyan will provide Armenian-English interpretation for the morning talks, and English-Armenian interpretation in the afternoon.


Argam Ayvazyan: Julfa’s khachkars and other funerary monuments: Two decades of photography

Argam Ayvazyan very systematically photographed the funerary monuments of Julfa Cemtery for over two decades, often at great person risk. He also carried out considerable research on the stones he was photographing, and compiled very detailed field notes, including transcriptions of the inscriptions. This work is of the greatest importance, especially now that cemetery has been completely destroyed. Without it, there could be no project to recreate the cemetery and its stones. No one in the world is better equipped to talk about the cemetery and the stones that he photographed, which is the subject of his presentation. Note: For health reasons Argam Ayvazyan is unable to travel to Rome, so will give his presentation by means of a Skype connection.

Argam Ayvazyan is an Armenian historian, journalist and researcher. H was born in Nakhichevan ASSR, and is particularly known for his books and monographs about the Armenian culture and history of that region. He has written books about the towns of Hin, Jugha and Agulis, as well as more than 200 other works, mostly in Armenian.


Professor Hamlet Petrosyan : Culture and Iconography of Jugha’s Khachkars.

This presentation will introduce the history, symbolism, and functions of khachkars (intricately-carved Armenian cross-stones), with particular attention to the architectural, ornamental, and iconographical characteristics of 15th-17th century Jugha khachkars. These unique monuments synthesize church-canonic themes and imagery (Nativity, Crucifixion, Deisus, Last Judgment, Chrit, Apostles, Adam, Golgotha, etc.) with folk myths about the afterlife (mortals with crosses, sphinxlike creatures, feasts, and so on). In addition to indigenous Armenian iconographic traditions, Jugha’s cross-stones depict innovational approaches conditioned by the economic growth amid the area’s key role in the contemporary merchant trade that stretched from Venice to China. Therefore, Jugha’s sacred stones, which survive only in photographs because of their systematic destruction by Azerbaijan’s authorities in 2005, are a valuable source in the study of not only Armenian, but also Islamic, Western European, and East Asian inter-influences.

Professor Hamlet L. Petrosyan has a Doctorate in Archaeology. He is interested in Armenian culture and identity, cultural heritage and cultural policy. His fundamental study devoted to khachkars: the book “Khachkar: its Origin, Function, Iconography, Semantics” (Yerevan, Printinfo, 2008) has became widely known in scientific circles and was awarded with the Prize of the President of the Republic of Armenia. He is the Head of the Department of Cultural Studies at the Yerevan State University and the Archeological mission of Tigranakert in Artsakh. He is the author of a series of monographs and of more than 140 scientific publications, printed in Armenia and abroad.


Dr Judith Crispin: Julfa Cemetery Digital Repatriation Project: Origins, development and goals

Judith Crispin’s imagination, creativity and enthusiasm are the reason the project came into being. She will begin by outlining briefly the interesting and unexpected origins of the project, but mainly her presentation will focus on the challenges the project has faced, in particular with its image capture and image processing. The challenges, false starts and steps taken to overcome them will be both described and illustrated, using the exhibition space and materials.

Judith Crispin is a poet and photographer, as well as an academic in the fields of music, poetry, photography and cultural heritage. Her works are variously performed, recorded, published and exhibited in Australia and Europe. She is Director of Photography and Co-Chief Investigator for the Julfa Project. Her photographs in remote Aboriginal communities have been published in ‘The Lumen Seed’, New York: Daylight Books, 2016. Judith is regularly invited to read her poetry at literary events including, most recently, the 26th Medellin International Poetry Festival in Colombia .


Drew Baker: 3D visualisation in the Julfa Cemetery project: challenges past, present and future

Drew Baker is the project’s 3D Visualisation specialist. In this presentation he will provide an overview of the technical basis of the project’s 3D visualisation, describing and illustrating key challenges that have been encountered. He will also outline the challenges that lie ahead if the project is to fulfill its long-term goals. This presentation will also take full advantage of the exhibition space.

Drew Baker has worked extensively in the cultural heritage sector since 1997 specialising in 3D modelling and virtual worlds. He has worked on programmes ranging from the digital reunification of Roman frescoes from a lost Roman villa in Boscoreale Italy for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art to visualising the changing landscape and building of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, London as well as collaborating on a number of international digital arts projects. Baker’s scholarly contribution to the academy includes laying out the ground work for the London Charter for the Computer-Based Visualisation of Cultural Heritage and was a work package leader for the European Commission Virtual Museum Transnational Network, both concerned with the creation, dissemination and preservation of cultural heritage and archaeology in the digital age. He is currently engaged as a Senior Research Fellow with the Australian Catholic University based in Sydney Australia collaborating on the Julfa Cemetery Digital Repatriation Project under the aegis of the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research.


Professor Harold Short, co-Director of the Project, will chair the colloquium, and will begin proceedings with a brief introduction to the project, its rationale and its goals. He will also chair the closing Round Table discussion.

Round Table : Endangered cultural heritage: Julfa Cemetery and beyond

The panel for the discussion will comprise the speakers, except for Argam Ayvazyan who is unable to be present in Rome.

Cultural heritage has always been at risk from a variety of natural and man-made causes, but seems to be especially in danger of deliberate destruction at the present time, particularly in the Middle and Near East. The panel will consider some of the key issues to be faced in the preservation of cultural materials, placing the Julfa Cemetery project in a wider international context. Audience participation in the discussion will be strongly encouraged and welcomed!

Harold Short is a Visiting Professorial Fellow at Australian Catholic University, and co-Director of the Julfa Cemetery Digital Repatriation Project. He is Emeritus Professor of King’s College London, where he founded and directed the Centre for Computing in the Humanities (later Department of Digital Humanities) until retirement in 2010. At King’s he was involved in the development of three MA programmes: Digital Humanities, Digital Culture and Society and Digital Asset Management, and with Willard McCarty of the world’s first Ph.D. programme in Digital Humanities, launched in 2005. He also played a lead role in a number of large-scale inter-disciplinary research projects. From 2011-15 he was visiting Professor at Western Sydney University, where he was closely involved in the establishment of the Digital Humanities Research Group, which hosted the international Digital Humanities 2015 conference. He is a former Chair of the European Association

for Digital Humanities and the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organisations in which he has a continuing role to support the development of digital humanities associations world-wide. He is a general editor of the Ashgate series Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities.


Simon Maghakyan will provide Armenian-English and English-Armenian interpretation during the conference.

Simon Maghakyan is a Denver-based educator and activist. He teaches political science at the University of Colorado Denver and Red Rocks Community College; coordinates community development for the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region; and previously campaigned for human rights in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia with Amnesty International USA. He is a valued member of the Julfa Cemetery Digital Repatriation Project.

The exhibitions in Rome included: historical photographs by Argam Ayzazyan, Aram Vryur and Zaven Sargsyan, new photographs by Dione McAlary and Judith Crispin, audio field recordings by Kimmo Venonnen, 3D field scans by Drew Baker, Judith Crispin, Dione McAlary, Hamlet Petrosyan and Father Shahe Ananyan. Topographical and monument reconstructions were done by Drew Baker, image editing by Judith Crispin and technical support was provided by Craig Williams and his team from Mosaic, Adelaide. – See more at: