CREATING PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT TO CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES THROUGH STORYTELLING: THE CASE OF QUBBET EL-HAWA CEMETERY IN ASWAN

 

Dina Mohamed Ezz El-Din

Faculty of Tourism and Hotels. Alexandria University, Ali Moustafa Mosharrafah Street, El-Azarita, Alexandria, Egypt, e-mail: dinaezzeldin2012.dee@gmail.com

 

 

ABSTRACT

Cultural heritage strongly affects our behaviour and our sense of identity. Therefore, it is very influential in the development of social groups. In order to engage public interests in cultural heritage, a variety of programs are used. The continuous development of a historic site allows its significance to be revealed and retained, and accordingly secures its future. Storytelling helps to sustain individual and group identities through plays based on historic events. Hence, storytelling sessions are means to provide entertaining and educative interactions, as well as to develop tourism marketing for the historical site and the tourist destination.

The site of Qubbet El-Hawa on the western bank of the Nile at Aswan has been chosen as the case-study for this research since it has great potentials to apply storytelling as an appropriate paradigm.  It is known for its elite ancient Egyptian cemetery which consists of rock-cut tombs that date back to many successive periods. The tomb owners were high officials who were responsible for royal expeditions to the south. Their tombs are characterized by the autobiographical inscriptions which narrate the journeys to Africa. Some of the burials are very finely decorated and introduce fascinating details of the lives of these nomarchs.

The objective of this study is to examine the possibilities of using storytelling, whether the traditional oral or the digital, as a means of attracting public engagement in cultural heritage in the site of Qubbet El-Hawa at Aswan. It also aims at developing and marketing tourism destinations there.

Key Words: Cultural Heritage, Storytelling, Qubbet El-Hawa, Identity.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Archaeological sites in Egypt retain an abundance of historic remains that bear testimony to the diversity of this civilization from the very early periods to modern times. This great wealth of cultural heritage requires documentation, preservation, safeguarding from threats and inclusion in tourist itineraries.

According to the UNESCO definition, Cultural heritage includes several main categories of heritage such as Tangible Cultural Heritage (movable cultural heritage like paintings, sculptures, coins, manuscripts; immovable cultural heritage (monuments, archaeological sites, etc) and underwater cultural heritage such as shipwrecks, underwater ruins and cities (UNESCO, 1972), while Intangible Cultural Heritage is concerned with oral traditions, performing arts, and rituals (UNESCO, 2003).

Hence, preserving cultural heritage is about the care given to historical items in order to reveal their value and secure their future (Soerjoatmodjo, 2015). Among the various archaeological sites in Egypt that need to be promoted in the sense of cultural diversity is the Qubbet El-Hawa necropolis on the western bank of Aswan which will constitute the case-study of the present research. A field visit has been made by the author to the cemetery in order to enter the tombs and take the necessary photos that would enable to assess the prospects of the recommendations of the research.  It has also been an opportunity to meet with the Spanish archaeological mission working there (Proyecto Qubbet El-Hawa, Universidad de Jaén) (Jaén, 2008).[1]

 

Objectives of the research

The study is aiming at achieving the following goals:

-Identifying the value of cultural heritage and its preservation.

-Shedding light on the site of Qubbet El-Hawa in Aswan and the importance of its archaeological remains.

  • Discussing the importance of community engagement and visitors interaction for the preservation of cultural heritage.

-Adopting Storytelling as an important paradigm to revive cultural heritage.

 

Valuing cultural heritage

Heritage is generally at the centre of the sense of belonging and collective international identity. An important aspect of cultural heritage is that it forms a kind of inheritance handed down to future generations (Blake, 2000). The first international conventions concerned with cultural heritage protection in times of conflict had been developed by the end of the nineteenth century. The importance of these conventions appeared particularly during World War II when the global community focused on protecting cultural sites (Alberts & Hazen, 2010).

Understanding the concept of cultural heritage serves many purposes and helps to achieve various benefits on individual and collective levels; one of its main impacts being the contribution to shaping people's identity, the creation of a sense of place and the improvement of life quality (Blake, 2000; Thornley & Waa, 2009).

Protecting and managing historic heritage sites entails the adoption of several measures. It requires the prioritization of the key historic sites; this stage involves several procedures such as stabilization, restoration, adaptation of the site as well as supplying visitor facilities (Alberts & Hazen, 2010).

 

Community engagement

Before introducing visitors, particularly of the local community, to the heritage site, it is fundamental to spread awareness about the importance of the historic aspect of the site. The local community has to acknowledge the value of the heritage site. It is also crucial to create a dialogue with the local community about the relevance of the site in order to emphasize its value. Indeed, historic sites can foster a sense of belonging and authentic human attachment within a community (Silvestrelli, 2013).

Moreover, it is important to engage people with the historic site through a range of activities. They can volunteer to restore the site. They can also join the working groups, whether conservators or guards or local tour guides. These social opportunities provide supportive environments for people (Thornley & Waa, 2009).

 

The cemetery of qubbet el-hawa

Overview about the archaeological site

The cemetery of Qubbet El-Hawa, with its unique architecture and inscriptions, is of great historic interest for Egypt and all mankind. It is one of the Egyptian sites that are registered on the World Heritage list of the UNESCO since 1979 (UNESCO, 1979). Qubbet El-Hawa, the ‘dome of the wind’, owes its Arabic name to a monument on its top, dedicated to a Sheikh named Ali Abu El–Hawa (Edel, 1984; Martínez-Hermoso et al., 2018). Indeed, desert sand constantly disperses the whole necropolis due to strong north wind (Bommas, 2016; QHRP, 2016).

The cemetery remained almost uninterrupted from at least the Fourth Dynasty till the Roman Period (Bommas, 2016; Edel, 1984). In 2008, the number of tombs identified at Qubbet El-Hawa had reached 209 (QHRP, 2016).

On the other hand, different carved figures attributed to the Predynastic period were found during a survey in Qubbet El-Hawa South in 2005. Excavations revealed interesting finds dating back from the Predynastic period to the Greaco-roman period, among which there were rock engravings, hieroglyphic inscriptions, and architectural remains (Gwenola & Jiménez-Serrano, 2016).

The main part of the site contains tombs belonging to governors and administrators of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. They held their positions in a very strategic part of Egypt: Elephantine Island, from which they led military and commercial expeditions to the south (Angelini et al., 2016; Jaén, 2008).

These dignitaries of the first Upper Egyptian nome were buried in rock-cut funerary complexes in a hill on the west bank of the Nile, on a distance of about one kilometre north of the island of Elephantine (Figure 1). The choice of this elevated site was probably to make it visible from Elephantine and the region of the First Cataract in the Nile. It is also possible that the site was chosen due to its presence above thick layers of fine-grained sandstone necessary for the construction. The tombs are cut on different terraces of the cliff, the largest ones being on the uppermost terrace (Martínez-Hermoso et al., 2018). Some of the tombs have imposing sizes, porticoed entrances (Figure 2), and various burial shafts, whereas the decoration style is "provincial" (Morkot, 2001).

The study of the cemetery allows the recognition of the methods used in the construction of tombs excavated in sandstone and the system of stone extraction during the Middle Kingdom. These tombs offer a valuable insight on funerary architecture, art and social aspects of life in Egypt during that period (Martínez-Hermoso et al., 2018).

 

Archaeological Missions

The excavation of these graves began in 1885 by General Francis Grenfell. Then, E. Schiaparelli and Jacques de Morgan conducted archaeological work in 1893 and 1894 respectively (Edel, 1984). Archaeological work was conducted by many other excavators: Ernesto Schiaparelli (1892), Jacques de Morgan (early 1890s), Lady William Cecil together with Howard Carter (early 1900s), and Labib Habachi between 1946 and 1952 (Bommas, 2016). From 1959 to 1984 the Bonn mission was led in the cemetery by Elmar Edel who published valuable accounts about the work and the finds (Edel, 1962; 1967-1971; 2008).

Since 2008, an archaeological mission from the University of Jaén in Spain has been excavating at Qubbet El-Hawa (Jaén, 2008). Also, a joint EES / University of Birmingham project led by Martin Bommas, had its first field season at Qubbet El-Hawa since 2015 under the name of Qubbet El-Hawa Research Project (QHRP) (Bommas, 2016).

Furthermore, a multidisciplinary mission has been carried out in the framework of the project TECH (Technologies for the Egyptian Cultural Heritage) since 2016. It is funded by the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology of Egypt (ASRT) (Angelini et al., 2016).

 

Peculiarities of architectural and artistic representations in Qubbet El-Hawa tombs

The necropolis of Qubbet El-Hawa is unique with the specific aspects of funerary beliefs and architectural development. It also bears evidence for social interaction during that period of ancient Egyptian history (Bommas, 2016). Through their distinctive decorative programs, the elite tomb owners of Qubbet El Hawa created a unique cultural expression which identified the close relationship and mutual support with their local community through images and texts (Vischak, 2007).

By virtue of their location, elite tombs in provincial cemeteries show formal deviation from others built in the Memphite necropolis since they represent the transformation of old traditions and the establishment of new ones. The tombs carry functions and meanings that can be distinguished from those in the capital. In the provincial cemetery at Qubbet El-Hawa, the tomb owners used some traditional images and omitted many others, creating thus programs that revealed an identity particular to them and their local community. Hence, they were able to satisfy their unique needs without fully leaving the traditional iconographic programs of elite tombs (Vischak, 2006).

Tomb programs of Qubbet El-Hawa are characterized by three main elements: a) The use of panels rather than whole decorated walls; b) The use of several non-Memphite styles; and c) Offering figures were the main centre of attention in the themes depicted rather than the usual daily-life topics (Vischak, 2007). In this respect, it is worth mentioning that one of the artistic peculiarities in the cemetery is the headstone which marks the eastern extension of the causeway to Sarenput’s I tomb (QH 36). It bears a scene which shows the driving of a bull up the causeway of this tomb (Figure 3). It is the only southernmost example of private artwork ever found in West Aswan from the early Middle Kingdom (Bommas, 2016).

In contrast to the widespread standard of program design that usually covered chapel walls with registers of relief or painting, the programs in the tombs of Qubbet El-Hawa were composed of independent scenes or figures carved or painted onto a section of a wall or pillar (Vischak, 2006).

The Qubbet El-Hawa tombs also present distinctive artistic aspects from the typical elite tombs in other necropolises which usually depicted anonymous figures in their scenes. In Qubbet El-Hawa burials, there are no such unidentified images; on the contrary, their decoration focuses on both the elite segment as much as the local community of which the subsidiary figures were mentioned by their titles. Beyond some exceptions which show daily-life representations (bull-fight, agriculture, fowling and fishing), the decorated panels depict offering bearers. They are mentioned by their names and titles which evidently connect them to the Ka-cult of the tomb owner where they are represented (Vischak, 2007).

Thus, it is possible to consider that the representations at Qubbet El-Hawa mirror the local community. Tomb programs focused on reproducing the local community by expressing a particular emphasis on scale and size. Hence, tomb owners and their families are depicted at a larger scale than other lesser figures, while anonymous figures are omitted. This is considered an important reference to individual identity in the cemetery. This concept is also confirmed by the unique local tradition of offering pottery bearing the name of their offerors (Edel, 1975; Vischak, 2006).

It is true that all provincial governors in Egyptian nomes had a leading role in their communities, but it was never expressed to the same extent as in that of Qubbet El-Hawa where the particular emphasis on "identity" is unique. These peculiar programs may have been developed due to the nature and context of the local community, as well as Elephantine’s location being Egypt’s base for trade and expeditions into Africa (Vischak, 2006). It is also thought that the lack of agriculture-based administration at Elephantine affected the economy of the province. Hence, most of its citizens worked in expeditions and border control; they were thus working directly or indirectly for the local elites (Vischak, 2007).

Furthermore, the Lower Necropolis is also a unique feature of the site of Qubbet El-Hawa. It is the first terrace at the foot of the hill which has burials dating back to the First Intermediate Period and the early Middle Kingdom. Tombs there stand as evidence for social communication since they show how the long-lost middle class of Elephantine succeeded in expressing identity and social status (Bommas, 2016; QHRP, 2016).

It is worth noting that there are a number of eminent figures buried in the cemetery of Qubbet El-Hawa. Pepinakht called Heqaib is a great example whose biography could be adopted for the promotion and marketing of cultural heritage in this site. Heqaib was a high official and an expedition leader of the 6th Dynasty.  His tomb at Qubbet El-Hawa (QH 35) (Porter & Moss, 1962) is known for his famous autobiography which relates his achievements, narrating successful military engagement with Africa as well as his journeys in the Libyan Desert (Angelini et al., 2016). These may have been valued in the Middle Kingdom, during which more expeditions were sent (Raue, 2014). He held offices in the mortuary foundations of Pepy I, Merenra, and Pepy II. He is also famous for being the owner of a sanctuary (a ka-chapel) in the administrative centre of Elephantine. It was customary during the Middle Kingdom and early Second Intermediate Period to build sanctuaries for some late Old Kingdom high officials in Elephantine (such as Sabni, Sobekhotep, and Mekhu). These ka-chapels became a place of pilgrimage at that time. Ritual processions were performed starting from these sanctuaries towards the cemetery of Qubbet El-Hawa (Franke, 2001; Raue, 2014).

Furthermore, Heqaib has received his mortuary cult in two sanctuaries in Elephantine: The early sanctuary which was probably constructed in the building complex of the 6th Dynasty, while the later sanctuary was built in the northern part of the town, west of the temple of Satet. It was particularly in this later sanctuary that the Feast of Sokar was celebrated by a procession with Heqaib's statue. The ceremony was inspired by the funerary rituals of Osiris; Sokar/Osiris/Heqaib being considered as a protector of the deceased. It is assumed that the feast was intended to be the southern counterpart of ceremonies held in the north. Accordingly, it attracted the local community as well as elites from outside Elephantine (Raue, 2014).

It is important to note that ka-chapels in ancient Egypt testify to festivals celebrated for the ka of the deceased. In the necropolis of Qubbet El-Hawa the processions attached to these ka-chapels intended to hold in high esteem those governors and expedition leaders of the Old Kingdom (Raue, 2014).

On the other hand, studies were made to draw the social and economic system through food analysis in the site, and to reconstruct the diet of both the elite and the middle class of the population in the Elephantine region from the First Intermediate Period till the end of Second Intermediate Period. Bones and teeth found in tombs of the Qubbet El-Hawa cemetery were examined because they contain indicators of diet and environmental changes. The investigated remains are stored now in the Anthropology and Mummy Conservation Lab., Ministry of Antiquities (Al-Khafif & El-Banna, 2015). With the famine that occurred during the First Intermediate Period, some unusual types of food were introduced to the diet of the people in Elephantine. Accordingly, the high calcium and low strontium contents of these food types were evident in the investigations. It was accustomed during periods of famine in ancient Egypt to adopt strategies of exchanging loans of cereals between nomes. Also, it is recorded by Ankhtifi, the governor of Edfu and Hierakonpolis in the First Intermediate Period, that he sent food to other nomes including Elephantine. It seems that the effect of cereals planted in different chemical soil were easy to detect during analyses. Moreover, the research conducted has also confirmed that the improvement of life conditions during the Middle Kingdom had its impact on diet system and thus body remains in Qubbet El-Hawa (Al-Khafif & El-Banna, 2015).

In this respect, it is worth mentioning that the cemetery of Qubbet El-Hawa has presented the world's oldest known case of breast cancer in the 4,200-year-old skeleton of an adult woman. She belonged to the wealthy class of the ruling nobles in elephantine during the Old Kingdom. The find was made by a Spanish team from the universities of Granada and Jaén in 2015 near the tomb of Sarenput II (Reuters, 2017).

Furthermore, local officials of the New Kingdom cut their tombs in the necropolis; some of them reused already existing burials. This practice of reusing older tombs continued till the end of the Dynastic period. During the sixth and seventh centuries AD, the reuse was made by Coptic hermits who settled in the necropolis (Colmenero et al., 2017; Hellinckx, 2014). It was during the tenth to twelfth centuries that the space in front of the tomb of the Old Kingdom governor Khunes (QH 34h) was transformed into a church. Since its patron saint is not known, the church is usually designated as Deir Qubbet El-Hawa, ‘the QH monastery’ (Figure 4). It is also commonly said that the church is attached to the nearby monastery of Deir Anba Hatre, also called ‘Monastery of St. Simeon’(Hellinckx, 2014).

To sum up, the development of the elite tomb programs at Qubbet El-Hawa included the use of distinctive unusual styles, probably suggesting that these tomb owners considered the use of unusual styles as a valuable mode of expressing their status and identity. All these circumstances created a special environment in which the local citizens, whether elite and non-elite, lived and worked. Thus, the tomb architectural and artistic programs together with the titles and autobiographies of the Qubbet El-Hawa tomb owners present a clear distinction between the elite burials of this cemetery and the rest of provincial necropolises in Egypt during that ancient time (Vischak, 2006).

 

Storytelling

Storytelling has long been a prominent tool for transmitting site-based cultural heritage. Through oral narrative, written texts and visual representations, stories have contributed to the transmission and preservation of cultural heritage. Embedded in both the tangible and the intangible, stories are a great channel of passing on wisdom, knowledge, and culture. Accordingly, they preserve the memory of subsequent generations and help them understand who they are and what they are to value (Wolfe, 2008).

Furthermore, storytelling is firmly a part of human learning, as it offers an organizational form for new experiences and knowledge. It is well understood that information can be mentally organized in a better way when it is related as a story (Danks et al., 2007). In fact, telling stories is an "oral tradition" which predates the written word; people have been telling stories for as long as they have speech (Johnsson, 2006). Storytelling is therefore paramount for sharing cultural heritage; stories can always be transmitted through time, they are preserved in people’s memories.

Analyses have revealed that storytelling and interactivity are among the major activities that constitute an effective and engaging visitor experience. Visitors are usually enthusiastic about humorous stories or others that provoke curiosity or tap into their emotions (Roussou et al., 2017). Stories told through live performances present a rich experience that preserves the ways in which people lived and it also extends it to future generations. The power of storytelling is embedded in its use of images and metaphors which capture the heart and mind of the audience (Agan, 2006).

Stories are generally considered vessels to transfer beliefs, wisdom and values. The main components of a story are: a main character (narrator) who delivers the story, an environment where the story takes place, a topic (a dilemma or a human experience), and a conclusion which wraps up the main message of the story. Oral storytelling involves direct personal contact between the narrator and the audience. Its process is co-creative and involves no passive listeners (Blerk, 2019).  Good storytellers can attract the audience's attention to a variety of subjects. They can change their attitudes and address their values and minds. Accordingly, they can expand people's emotional and cognitive responses and experiences (Johnsson, 2006).

The use of storytelling in heritage is essential to safeguard it as it connects people to their past by bringing it back to the present life. This is achieved through the interactive narration about ancient people, old places and early traditions. While storytellers can be dressed in specific costumes adopting a certain character, they are addressing the audience's emotions through activities that engage their five senses. A diversity of techniques is suggested to be applied in this respect such as using flash cards, audio and video aids, incorporating necessary materials for the performance, including physical activities like preparing handcrafts. The case of the Kea Folktales Festival celebrated in the island of Kea in Greece presents a good example of history storytelling projects. It uses narrative promenades to tell the stories of historic features of the island. These performances are thus aiming at preserving Greek heritage and sharing it with the visitors (locals and foreigners) through storytelling (Blerk, 2019).

 

Digital storytelling

Nowadays, the focus in heritage sites and museums is centered on providing an interactive experience to visitors, instead of the traditional approaches. Interactive storytelling, gaming and other digital technologies have a great impact since they provide personalization and contextualization of the information delivered to the visitors (Danks et al., 2007; Palombini, 2017).

Digital storytelling is relatively a new term and refers to the use of digital tools to tell stories. It can be seen as the modern way of telling stories, combining multimedia features. It emerged as a practice in the early days of personal computers and first networks in the early 1990s, with a series of workshops organized by the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The first examples were video productions linked to personal stories, and evolved to interactive forms (Brouillard et al., 2015). Interactive cultural heritage applications are preferred since they allow users to interact with digital content instead of being passive visitors (Rizvic, 2014).

 Three timeframes can be identified in the access to cultural heritage on site: before, during and after the visit. Technology accompanies each of these timeframes, preparing and enriching every step. Thus, the visitor enters the site even before actually entering it physically, and is able to interact with other visitors as well. The participant is thus introduced to a connected environment in which heritage site is set into narratives through several digital devices such as touchscreens, smartphones, tablets, multimedia guides, and portable game devices. In other words, a whole narrative realm is created where the borders between digital and physical worlds are erased through digital tools (Brouillard et al., 2015).

 

Relationship maintained between the audience and the heritage site/object through storytelling

It is important to understand that digital storytelling constitutes a sort of mediation of cultural heritage which helps to increase a monumental or museographic space. It also improves the visitors' experience and offers them better participation capacities (Brouillard et al., 2015).

The scenario in which mobile-based, storytelling applications for cultural heritage take place is characterized by active users, who move around in a physical place and act upon technological devices that bring their own limitations into the interaction with the user (Lombardo & Damiano, 2012).

An interactive mobile storytelling experience of visitors was applied in the archaeological site of the Ancient Agora in Athens, Greece in 2016. This was one of the methods and tools designed by Emotive, an EU-funded research project (2016-2019) that aimed to support the cultural and creative industries in creating narratives and experiences which draw on the power of “emotive storytelling” (EMOTIVE, 2016). It was important to assess visitors' attitudes and responses and to examine how they could participate in an emotional journey going back in time to experience aspects of life in the Ancient Agora. While they walk around the site, they listen to stories exported into a mobile application (Roussou et al., 2017).

It is crucial to note that in spite of the importance of the storytelling in the emotional engagement of the audience, some think that it remains secondary to site guidance. This is based on the fact that guidance gives audience's expectations a more informative aspect than a highly entertaining application (Lombardo & Damiano, 2012).

 

Storytelling in Qubbet El-Hawa necropolis

The present study suggests adopting storytelling as a paradigm to enhance tourism activities and promote cultural heritage, whether tangible or intangible, in the cemetery of Qubbet El-Hawa. The necropolis has a wealth of cultural aspects that "storytelling" would be the best way to shed light upon. The autobiographies of the elite tomb owners, their journeys in the south, their unique artistic programs and designs in their burials, and the community's identity reflected in all these elements are all factors that constitute a rich environment to apply storytelling techniques.

The promotion of cultural heritage of the Qubbet El-Hawa cemetery fosters an opportunity to examine provincial communities and how they expressed their individuality through their unique cultural characteristics (Vischak, 2015). Tomb owners of Qubbet El-Hawa developed a distinctive program that reflected their sense of identity and community bonds (Vischak, 2007).

Hence, it is suggested that storytelling is as a major tool to achieve the following goals:

-To improve visits and to engage the community in the cemetery of Qubbet El-Hawa. 

-To formulate a program that would tap into the site's tangible and intangible heritage.

-To highlight the presentation of the necropolis heritage through the creation of plays or theatrical performances which tell stories about the cemetery's history, tomb owners, myths and religious beliefs, etc.

-To bring back to life the rich heritage of the cemetery of Elephantine by using live theatrical performances. 

 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Cultural heritage strengthens a sense of place and provides the context for community identity. It also creates visible evidence of the continuity between past, present and future. In other words, it is a vital tool that helps to provide communities with insights into how these groups have evolved. Taking into consideration that heritage-based tourism is a key growth area in Egypt's economy; consequently, interventions must be developed to improve the value placed on Egyptian heritage sites.

Storytelling, on the other hand, is considered a useful tool to bridge the gap between people across cultures and throughout time. It is therefore an ideal paradigm for the preservation of cultural heritage as it is a universal feature of human communication.

The following recommendations are suggested in order to effectively use storytelling techniques in the cemetery of Qubbet El-Hawa:

 -To gather all the stories available about the tomb owners and the community of this first nome of Upper Egypt. Storytellers may narrate these stories, acting like one of the famous Elephantine governors (Heqaib, Khunes, Sarenput II, etc), telling about how they ruled the province, how they led journeys and expeditions to the south in Africa, how they made their tombs and how they engaged the local community at that time.

-To form a skilled and well-trained team of storytellers from the modern local community in Aswan. They would be the best candidates to be engaged in the cultural activities of telling stories of their ancestors. Also, their involvement in the performances will enhance their sense of identity and will allow them to share their modern traditions and connect them with the ancient ones that were practiced in the past. Heritage stories told by the locals are meaningful and more realistic.

-To incorporate stories into guided tours and draw routes for programs and walking tours that benefit from the peculiarities of the cemetery, whether social, architectural or artistic. Stories must actively adapt to the routes followed by the visitor.

-To shed light through the stories on the continuity of religious practices in the necropolis all over the Egyptian history. Besides the ancient Egyptian beliefs and burial customs reflected in tomb architecture and design, the presence of a Coptic monastery as well as the tomb of the Islamic Sheikh on top of the cliff are all key factors to be included in the programs.

-To highlight the stories of tomb discoveries in the programs as they also give a glance on the richness of the site and the international concern given to it.

-To introduce interactive tools of digital storytelling such as mobile applications, touch screens, 3D models, augmented reality, virtual reality, portable devices, multimedia guides and others, to narrate the history of the necropolis and its tomb owners. In this respect, it is worth mentioning that a project of the department of graphic engineering of Cordoba University in Spain is working since 2017 on the graphic representation and design in the tomb of Sarenput II. The team is working on a virtual 3D reproduction of the burial site of the 12th Dynasty governors of Elephantine (Martínez-Hermoso, 2017).

It is crucial to understand the relation between storytelling and the redesigning of heritage mediation. It would provide the opportunity to establish a link with the public and to personalize their experience making it participative. The main goal is thus to create a narrative context that facilitates interaction with the heritage site.

Applying these notions of heritage preservation, storytelling and heritage-based tourism onto the necropolis of Qubbet El-Hawa enhances the valorisation of its cultural aspects and the conservation of its heritage, as well as promoting tourism activities in this distinctive part of Egypt.

 

Figure 1: Overview of the necropolis of Qubbet El-Hawa.

 

Figure 2: Entrance to the tomb of Sarenput I (QH 36)-Middle Kingdom.

 

Figure 3: Niche of the northern entrance into the causeway of Sarenput I (QH 36).

(After: Bommas, 2016)

 

Figure 4: Remaining part with painting from the Monastery of Qubbet El-Hawa.

 

 

 

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[1] Acknowledgements: The researcher acknowledges Professor Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano, Director of the Project of Qubbet El-Hawa, University of Jaén, for the time, effort and useful comments during the researcher's field visit to the necropolis in March 2018.