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Travel literature is a rich and popular genre and a valuable source of information for various disciplines. This project seeks to approach this topic through the study of the case of Cyprus. The chronological scope covers the period between the 15th (invention of printing) to the 21st century.The Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation has secured a contract for a new research project titled “Re-inventing age-old Travelling Paths of the Levant in the Digital Era: the example of Cyprus” (ReTraPath). The project secured funding after a call for proposals as part of the “Excellence Hubs” programme of the “RESTART 2016-2020” programme of the Institute of Research and Innovation.

The postdoctoral proposal received a high score and was ranked fifth among the proposals eligible for funding in the area of Human and Social Sciences, reaffirming that the Cultural Foundation is at the vanguard of research excellence and that it remains highly regarded as a research organisation. The project coordinator is Dr Ioanna Hadjicosti, director of the Cultural Foundation, and principal researcher is Dr Margarita Ioannou.

ReTraPath aims to address in a scientific way an important aspect of travel literature, by researching the history of ideas and culture in Cyprus from the 15 th century to the information age of the 21 st century. The main sources to be used are written texts and manuscripts in various European languages (other than Slavic) produced by travellers who visited the island between the 15 th and 20th centuries, as well as print or digital texts from the 21st century. The rare books to be researched belong to the Collection of Manuscripts and Incunabula of the Cultural Foundation, the Collection of the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation and the Costas and Rita Severis Foundation. The project is a partnership with the Centre for Scientific Dialogue and Research and researcher Dr Katerina Gotsi, as well as with the University of Piraeus Research Centre, under the supervision of associate professor Dimitrios Vergados of the university’s Department of Informatics.The technological objectives are: 1) The digitization of a specific number of old travel books which have not been digitized before, as a substantial contribution to the preservation of the cultural wealth of travel literature (ReTraPath enriches further INSPIRAL (online portal for travel literature developed by the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation) which was initiated by Zefyros research programme (Sylvia Ioannou Foundation - University of Cyprus, under the scientific supervision of Professor Julia Chatzipanagioti-Sangmeister); 2) The dissemination of the outcomes through the development of smart tools. With the use of technology, the collected material will be employed for the development of a) a game (educational application) designed for students aged 9-12 years old and b) two 3-dimensional interactive maps of Cyprus for the wider public with areas of tourist and cultural interest.

The innovation of the suggested project lies in a) the interdisciplinary consortium, b) the novel scientific approach to texts that cover a specific topic (travel) and geographical area (Eastern Mediterranean) and which span a period of seven centuries, c) the use of information technology and augmented reality in the dissemination of findings, and d) the means of dissemination and utilization of results in relation to both international audiences and local society.

 

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