From the Ground Up: Community Engagement in Rock Art Management in Wadi Rum

Public Lecture Announcement:

Two members of the core team document rock art in Wadi Rum, photo courtesy of Dr. Casey Allen.

About the Lecture:

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wadi Rum is a prime tourist destination, home to thousands of rock inscriptions and petroglyphs—many of which are actually in grave danger of decay. This lecture discusses the many challenges facing current rock art management in the Valley of the Moon and the different ways these issues are being addressed in a current USAID SCHEP project, including:

  • This importance of focusing on a ground up approach and including the local community in not only the protection, but the research and assessment of countless rock art/inscriptions sites throughout the area.
  • The Rock Art Stability Index (RASI), as a rapid field assessment method that encourages non-specialist participation in rock art research.
  • Current progress of our August field season involving local youths from Rum village in rock art research and tour guide training in rock art stewardship.

Cultural heritage management involves the blending of science, history, art, architecture, and policy.  Hence, an understanding of rock art and its decay is fundamental to its conservation and protection. Through these efforts we hope to help establish management policies that will ensure Wadi Rum’s irreplaceable rock art and inscriptions endure increased tourism, human contact, climate change, and time.

About the Lecturer:

Fervently dedicated to fieldwork, discovery, and maintaining the delicate balance between historic preservation and educational experience/exposure, KAELIN M. GROOM has a Ph.D. in Environmental Dynamics form the University of Arkansas, where she also obtained her masters in Geography. Her specialties include geomorphology, cartography, cultural resource management, and heritage tourism. With wide interests, Dr. Groom’s current research includes analyzing cavernous rock decay (tafoni), quantifying tangible impacts of tourism in culturally protected landscapes, and serving as an advocate for rapid field assessments for cultural stone decay and heritage management.

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