Maldives has contracted Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies to conduct documentation and surveying of endangered tangible cultural heritage sites. The agreement of Maldives Heritage Survey was signed by Minister of Education Dr. Aishath Shiham and Project Leader from Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Professor Michael Feener.
Speaking at the ceremony, Education Minister Aishath Shiham highlighted Maldives has a rich culture, adding that it is important to have written documents regarding the culture and heritage of Maldives. The Minister also expressed the heritage sites are priceless and should be preserved.
Moreover, Department of Heritage revealed plans to establish a heritage registry for the sustainable management of heritage sites in the country. Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies will compile the registry under the agreement and noted the importance of establishing such a registry, said Minister Aishath Shiham.
The Maldives Heritage Survey aims to systematically conduct inventory and document endangered tangible cultural heritage sites in the Maldives, including mosques, Muslim grave markers, and other historical structures and physical objects through digital photography, 3D terrestrial scanning and geographic information system to create an open access online heritage database.
The materials documented under the survey are critically endangered, facing both natural and human threats that jeopardise the survival and accessibility of historical information for the vital node in pre-modern global economic and religious networks. The project is crucial for the people of Maldives in interpreting its own past, and for global scholarship on the history and material culture of the little-studied archipelago at the cross-roads of an interconnected Indian Ocean world, according to Dr. Michael Feener.
The project conducted at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies is funded by Arcadia Fund. Meanwhile, the components of the project in Maldives will be conducted in partnership with Maldives Department of Heritage with additional support from the Earth Observatory of Singapore. The initial field survey is planned to begin in April 2018, during which time the online database will be launched.