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Herodotus Project: a digital bridge to Cyprus and north Aegean region's rich heritage

In partnership with The European Commission
Herodotus Project: a digital bridge to Cyprus and north Aegean region's rich heritage
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Cristina Giner
Published on
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The Herodotus project is a unique initiative to preserve a range of historical archives from Cyprus and the North Aegean. It includes audiovisual, music and broadcast material and collections of local newspaper archives.

Cyprus and the Greek Aegean islands share a common historical and cultural background, spanning from antiquity to the modern era. Tapping into this rich heritage archivists and historians from the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation’s have rescued over 10.000 broadcast and other files of unique historical value and digitised them into an open access database. The venture was made possible by the EU project, Digital Herodotus II.

It's very important for our society. It's a part of European history”
Thanasis Tsokos
Director General of CyBC and Head of the CyBC archive.

“The uniqueness of our archive, it's because we were the only TV and radio station from 1957 until 1992," explains Thanasis Tsokos, Director General of CyBC and Head of the CyBC archive. "So, we try to digitalise [the recordings] because it's very important for our society. It's a part of European history”

Digital archeology

The files are preserved at the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation’s archive. It provided hundreds of hours of audiovisual, audio and music files from 1950 to the 1990’s covereing a wide range of topics. It’s been an ‘archaeological’ process, says Thanasis Tsokos:

"First, we have to fix it, to digitalise it, and after to recognise who is who in the pictures, in the documentaries, in the radio so it's a complicated procedure”.

Twenty seven workers carefully selected, restored, documented and preserved the materials. Today the Digital Herodotus platform hosts 20% of the total archive of the national television. It was no simple undertaking, says Fivia Savva, project manager of Herodotus II: “Choosing the material was not an easy task. We had to choose only 400 hours of the material, from a total of two and a half thousand hours”

A rich resource

The total amount of the investment by the Digital Herodotus II, which launched in 2017 and ran until 2020, was around one million euros. Some 85% of the budget was funded by the EU and 15% by the Cypriot and Greek Governments. The project was carried out jointly by the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, the Press and Information Office and the Southern Aegean Regional Development Agency.

More than half a milion pages from local newspapers have also been digitised into the open access database and it is a very welcome resource for researchers and journalists, like Marina Schiza: “I must say that it's a very easy engine to use. When I search for something, then I get 10, 20 videos,” she says.

Connecting to history

The history of Cyprus and the Aegean region in one click. The archive has already had 330.000 visitors from 70 countries. It's also shown its value as an accessible platform for the most vulnerable. Students from the School of the Deaf of Nicosia have been working on a documentary using material they sourced from the site. During the Turkish invasion in 1974, the school served as a refugee camp and the project connects the students with their its wartime history.

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