Overhead view of a small group of people down on their knees, closely assessing an ancient mosaic pavement

Participants in the 2014 MOSAIKON course on the conservation and management of archaeological sites with mosaics conduct a condition-survey exercise of the Achilles Mosaic at the archaeological site of Nea Paphos, Paphos, Cyprus. Continued work at Paphos will be undertaken as part of Ancient Worlds Now.

Today, we at Getty are embarking on an unprecedented and ambitious $100 million global initiative, Ancient Worlds Now: A Future for the Past. Including far-reaching education, research, and conservation efforts unfolding through 2030 and beyond, the initiative seeks to promote a greater understanding of the world’s cultural heritage and its value to global society.

In an age of resurgent populism, sectarian violence, and climate change, the future of the world’s common heritage is not only at stake, but at risk.

Cultural heritage embodies a shared sense of what it means to be human, a community united by a common need to make things of beauty and usefulness, and to compose stories and rituals about humanity’s place in the world.

We will launch with urgency and build momentum for years to come. This work must start now, before more cultural heritage is neglected, damaged, or destroyed. Much is at stake.

Conservation, Research, and Education

Ancient Worlds Now will explore the interwoven histories of the ancient worlds through scholarship, exhibitions, conservation, and pre- and post-graduate education, and will draw on partnerships in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe.

This work will make a significant impact in four important ways:

  • Raise awareness of the threats to ancient heritage from development, economic pressures, mass tourism, political forces, climate change, and violent conflict.
  • Create effective conservation strategies that can be applied on a large scale to increase scientific expertise and global capacity to save what remains.
  • Engage global audiences through compelling, advanced digital interactive education and exhibition programs that demonstrate the importance of cultural heritage.
  • Pursue deep inquiry, including advanced digital research techniques, to strengthen our understanding of the interconnections between and among ancient cultures.
Ancient stone carving of a mammal with large paws and small ears, ornamented with sinuous lines

Stanford University’s Çatalhöyük Living Archive, supported by Getty, is one of the projects underway as part of Ancient Worlds Now. Stamp seal in the form of an animal, probably a bear, excavated in 2005 at Çatalhöyük. Image courtesy Çatalhöyük Research Project. Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Active Projects around the World

Over the coming year, we will engage major global partners from schools and universities, cultural institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector and build on existing projects and partnerships.

Among the many activities already underway:

  • Exhibitions on the art of ancient Mesopotamia, Persia, Thrace, Assyria, and the Levant.
  • Digital mapping of excavations at Çatalhöyük, Turkey
  • Conservation work at the Byzantine-era archeological site of Nea Paphos and its necropolis on Cyprus
  • Archeological research in the Black Sea Region
  • Training programs to expand conservation capacity in Abu Dhabi; Erbil, Kurdistan; and Sofia, Bulgaria

See getty.edu/ancientworlds for the full list of active projects, and to follow the progress of the initiative as it grows and unfolds.