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Digital Nafplio's Brittany K.L. Mabry Interview

1- What makes you passionate about heritage management?
I approach heritage management as one who simply believes that there is purpose behind objects and structures that have been left to us by antiquity; deciphering those purposes is the absolute source of my passion for heritage management. Material culture and monuments, like ancients texts, are a means by which our human ancestors communicate the ideals that they believed ought to endure from science, to engineering, to art.We have so manytangible examples of mankind’s brilliance, skill, and resilience across time, and now have sophisticated means to digitally retain them and examine them in ways we have never had before.I believe that the best and most lasting accomplishments of humanity through the ages ought to be preservedfor future generations and am delighted to be one among those who are privileged with the task.
2- How did you learn about the IHC, and what was your first experience with the IHC?
Because archaeological discovery had captivated my imagination from a very young age and thus continues,after spending a few years studying geospatial technology I sought to integrate my interests by examining the means by which these technologies might be used to answer archaeological questions. I thought the best introduction to this field to come through in an archaeological field school, and I had been following the field programs operated by the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST). I was originally interested in a geophysics field school in Egypt but, as fate would have it, that field school ended abruptly on account of the Arab Spring. I saw that there was a similar field school using laser scanning in Eleusis, Greece, offered by the Initiative for Heritage Conservancy, and thought it was the perfect alternative.
I had formerly been unfamiliar with the IHC, but my introduction to it through the Eleusis Digital Recordation field school ultimately proved to be not only very beneficial but life-changing. I took part as a student in the third and final field school at Eleusis, an IHC project designed to digitally record the extant structures at the site of the famous ancient Eleusian Mysteries. It must be said that Greece is so inherently beautiful that simply being there was rewarding enough—the experience could only be memorable. The modern town of Elefsina offers so much intrigue by blending contemporary urbanism with ancient structures and heritage throughout. The natural environment, complete with magnificent vistas of neighboring Salamis island, make it no small wonder that Elefsina had been long inhabited and deemed sacred; anyone seeing it today would be compelled to investigate as well as preserve its heritage.
The field school itself was invaluable, but by nature had limitations in that we students came from varying backgrounds and skill levels, and presenting us with this complex technology, if done properly, is aformidable and time-consuming task. However, recognizing this, and because we cared so much for the mission of the field school and what it represented, my colleagues and I forged strong relationships while there with a resolve to continue to make improvements on the field school. I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.
3- What does the IHC offer you, and what does it propose to offer the world?
I could never have expected how extraordinarily dear and valuable all IHC alumni are to the IHC field programs. Because one of the stated aims of the IHC is to create and develop human resources, upon graduating from the field school we (my colleagues and I)became those human resources and were invited to maintain our involvement with the IHC. When I was approached by the IHC to consider an instructional role in the next field school program, I immediately reached out to Leica Geosystems HDS in California to propose an internship that might better prepare me for this role. I was accepted for an internship, where I stayed for several months, and while there was responsible for authoring a few documents, one of which specifically addressed managing large laser scanning projects. The following spring I joined a graduate program at the University of Arkansas in Geography with an emphasis on geomatics.Those experiences culminated in my taking on the role of head instructor for theIHC.Digital Historic Nafplion field school.
Through my appointment the IHC offers me the opportunity to interact directly with conservators, urban architects, surveyors, archaeologists, and others interested in heritage management and preservation in order that we may co-operatively develop and execute strategies where we apply, in a meaningful way, these technologies to preservation.
The IHC wants first to find and cultivate students’ academic interest and skills in heritage management. I think, in all honesty, that what the IHC seeks most is people who care—students and professionals from all over the globe—because it recognizes that they are the ones who will be the most pro-active in the world of heritage management. People who have an instinctive curiosity about technology coupled with an appreciation for material culture will not only best apply these technologies to preservation, but also use them as invaluable tools to explore and examine our heritage. The IHC offers exactly that to all who are interested. Greece is a case study in which to learn and develop good heritage management practices, but for the IHC it is not only about Greece or Greek heritage—it’s about good heritage management practices which are learned here but are applicable to any site around the world. That is essentially the IHC difference, that’s our global mission.

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