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.

The Julfa Cemetery Digital Repatriation Project is hosted by The Australian Catholic University. Its primary goal is a virtual reconstruction of the ancient Armenian cemetery at Julfa, completely destroyed by Azeri troops in the first five years of this century. The project has been undertaken to restore dignity to the deceased inhabitants of Julfa Cemetery and ensure the public memory of Armenia’s cultural heritage. This includes its ‘repatriation’ to people of Armenian extraction wherever in the world they may be living, but its significance as world cultural heritage is equally important. Further, the project hopes to safeguard an important testimony to early Christian history in the Near East.

The project has five key objectives:

  • to create an extensive archive of materials related to Julfa Cemetery and its monuments, consisting of photographs, documents and digital materials;
  • to create permanent virtual reality installations in Yerevan and Sydney (and any other city that wishes to have one);
  • to create a touring exhibition that can travel to cities without the resources to establish a permanent installation;
  • to create a vivid web presence, including online virtual reality exhibits, open to comment and contribution to everyone who may be interested;
  • to work in collaboration with other projects and individuals interested in the preservation and reconstruction of destroyed and endangered cultural heritage.

The project’s presence in Rome is in part to contribute to celebrations on the opening of a joint ‘Rome Centre’ of Australian Catholic University and Catholic University of America, and in part to mark the project’s first immersive 3D exhibition. This exhibition is based on 3D scans and photographs of about 15 extant monuments from Julfa – i.e. those that were removed from Julfa cemetery for one reason or another during the course of the 20th Century.

The exhibition will be available for public viewing in the Soap Factory from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th September. Those attending the Conference on Friday 23rd will be the first to experience the exhibition, with a preliminary view during the conference and an extended viewing at the close, with a reception to follow.

The purpose of the Conference is to describe the rationale, work and goals of the project and the importance of Julfa’s funerary monuments, especially its medieval khachkars (cross-stones), whose international cultural significance was recognised by UNESCO when they were added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage soon after the final destruction of the cemetery in 2006.