The Origins of Doha Project: Online Digital Heritage Remediation and Public Outreach in a Vanishing Pearling Town in the Arabian Gulf
Doha’s glass and steel skyscrapers rise over the artificial corniche, their watery reflections broken by the wake of brightly colored wooden dhows, coasting below. People, mostly men, pose and grin for “selfies” against this backdrop, performing their place in Doha’s history, between the old pearling town and new ascendency. The Origins of Doha project explores the foundation and the historic growth of Doha, its transformation to a modern city, and the lives and experiences of its people through a combination of archaeological investigation, historical research and oral testimony. This project employs a variety of outreach strategies, including re-photography, social media, and multimedia-enhanced, online GIS to raise awareness about the increasingly threatened urban heritage beneath the modern landscape. These strategies incorporate the challenges raised while conducting archaeological outreach amongst a rapidly changing and diverse population with widely varying perceptions of heritage. In this paper we discuss digital archaeology, outreach and contested heritage from the first urban excavations in the Arabian Gulf, with an emphasis on pragmatic, modular, and adaptable strategies for meaningful, multivalent archaeological interpretation.