Digital Heritage Mapping is a multi-disciplinary 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that melds age-old scholarship with 21st Century technology to assert the importance of physical location to the understanding of history. We pioneer the synthesis of traditional scholarship, fieldwork, and multimedia technologies—satellite imagery (complete with terrain, zoomable perspectives, tiltable views and 360-degree rotation), immersive panoramas, three-dimensional architectural reconstructions, archival and contemporary photography, and place-based oral history recordings—to create virtual entry points to once vibrant, yet now largely vanished, communities.
DHM’s flagship initiative, Diarna (which means “Our Homes” in Judeo-Arabic), is an online geographic museum that explores Middle Eastern Jewish life through the prism of physical location by digitizing individual sites and memories. Diarna synthesizes scholarship, field work, and multimedia to create virtual entry points to once vibrant, yet now largely vanished, Jewish communities. Google Earth satellite imagery, immersive panoramas, three-dimensional reconstructions, archival and contemporary photography, and place-based oral histories on synagogues, schools, cemeteries, shrines, and other sites enables Diarnausers to bridge religious, political, generational, and geographic divides. Uniquely grounding Jewish history in buildings, locations, and memories in this comprehensive way, enables anyone with an Internet connection to travel across the region as if on eagles’ wings, unaffected by the often prohibitive realities below.
Diarna has documented over 650 sites across the region, amassed thousands of photographs and tens of filmed tours and interviews, conducted 17 research expeditions to the region (most recently to Iraqi-Kurdistan and Lebanon), been featured in popular (Haaretz) and scholarly (Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World) publications, presented at academic conferences (Association of Jewish Studies, Center for Jewish History), created an exhibit installation at the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme in Paris, and partnered with Wellesley College, the Alliance Israélite Universelle, Beit Hatfutsot: The Museum of the Jewish People, and Yad Ben-Zvi. For “accomplish[ing] so much so quickly” and delivering “a huge impact for each dollar invested,” Diarna has twice been recognized as one of the 50 most innovative Jewish projects in North America by the Slingshot Fund.