Talk: Recreating the Medieval Armenian Cemetery of Djulfa

On Friday 11 July, Dr Judith Crispin, Director of Manning Clark House with Dione McAlary will present a talk to the Armenian community about their ongoing project to recreate the Djulfa cemetery from existing photographs as a virtual 3D projection.

The presentation will take place in the Edgarian Hall at 7 p.m. Click on Pamphlet.

In November 2013 Manning Clark House instigated a pilot project to collect photographic and other records of the destroyed Armenian medieval cemetery at Djulfa, Azerbaijan. This pilot aimed to assess the feasibility of a large-scale virtual heritage project to recreate the cemetery as a photogrammetric projection. We have now completed that pilot project.

The historic medieval Armenian Cemetery at Djulfa stood until 2006 in the border area between Iran and Nakhichevan, on a hill divided by three valleys, to the west of the ruined city of Jugha. At its peak it held more than 10,000 khachkars, dating from the 15th to the 17th century, alongside tombstones from the late 6th century – none of these stones remain From 1998 the cemetery was subjected to systematic wilful destruction by military forces and, between 2005 and 2006, was definitively destroyed. The Armenian Government took numerous steps to alert the international community to the destruction of cultural heritage at Djulfa, including official approaches to UNESCO.

In 2006 documentation was submitted to UNESCO by an international parliamentary delegation representing Switzerland, France, Greece, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Scotland. This documentation urged UNESCO to condemn in no uncertain terms the destruction of the cultural sites at Jugha, including the medieval cemetery. The document notes that “given the impossibility of any reconstruction of the destroyed site and its khachkars – now literally pulverised – and in consideration of the fact that under the surface there are still the buried bodies of people to whose memory the former khachkars had been erected, we suggest to transform this gross act of out-spoken hatred into a positive step towards confidence-building and reconciliation.”

It is in the spirit of such a positive transformation that Manning Clark House has begun this project to recover the now-destroyed Djulfa cemetery.

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