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MoU With Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography
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AUA Signs MoU With RA Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography

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YEREVAN, Armenia — On July 14, 2021, the American University of Armenia (AUA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (RA). The MoU is the concluding step in the design of the new archeological and ethnographic initiative commenced by the late Dr. Gregory Areshian. The project aims to integrate Armenia’s paramount archaeological sites with the country’s budding tourism industry, boosting the sector by showcasing the enormous wealth of Armenia’s historic heritage while introducing its lesser-known monuments. Joining AUA President Dr. Karin Markides at the signing were the Dean of the Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics (CBE) Dr. Vache Gabrielyan, the Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Hotel and Hospitality Management (GCHHM) Zarmine Zeitountsian, the Deputy Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography Dr. Arsen Bobokhyan, and the Project Manager Dr. Viktorya Vasilyan.

The project begins with acquiring high resolution aerial images and topographical information of the 100 most prominent historical sites of Armenia. The sites will include archaeological objects from all periods of history, including fortresses, settlements, cemeteries, sacred landscapes, temples, and monasteries in locations across all regions of Armenia. Each site will have a historical description written by experts in Armenian archaeology, history, and architecture. 

State of the art drone technology will be used to acquire video footage of the 100 sites, creating a comprehensive online resource for public access that will include a virtual reality option, which allows viewers to position themselves within close vicinity of these historical objects and observe them virtually from different angles. Special video processing software will be used to create 3D models of the most notable buildings among the selected 100 project sites that can be used to construct physical models of these architectural treasures.

The resulting database and online resources created by this project can be used for multiple educational and academic purposes while providing a valuable source of information and stimulation for furthering the development of the tourism industry of Armenia. These resources will lead to the creation of user-friendly content in multiple languages, promotional videos of unique and off the beaten path monuments, booklets, leaflets, and various travel websites. The unprecedented project content could also serve as a catalyst for organizing public-private partnerships and conferences, new tours, expeditions, photo-video exhibitions, and more.

The ultimate result will be an advanced tourism product. Up to three selected monuments will have road signage leading to them, along with recorded and analyzed spatial data, easy-to-navigate online maps of the monuments and surrounding communities, signage around the monuments with QR codes, information accessible via augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, mobile application embedded within the travel website, virtual tours, and an information center next to each monument.  

“The project will integrate the fields of archaeology and ethnography with the tourism industry, spheres in Armenia that are brimming with potential. I greatly look forward to this collaboration’s multidimensional impact on academia, industry, and society, all while honoring the legacy of the late Dr. Gregory Areshian,” remarked AUA President Dr. Karin Markides. The project is slated to begin in September 2021 and was made possible through the generous support of Christine Simone, President of the Manoogian Simone Foundation and AUA benefactor.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values. 

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