The Qantara project, which is part of the Euromed Heritage programme, aims to contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue among Mediterranean cultures by highlighting their cultural heritage. It promotes intercultural interchange by supporting the preservation and promotion of the shared historic heritage and culture of the European-Mediterranean region, through human, scientific, and technological exchanges.
The project has brought together the Departments of antiquities and heritage in nine partner countries—France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. The Qantara, Mediterranean Heritage, and Eastern and Western Crossingsproject has led to the establishment of a database that can be consulted on the Internet, which presents a transversal vision of the Mediterranean’s cultural heritage. The database is not limited to the heritage of partner countries, but includes the entire artistic heritage of the countries on the Mediterranean coast, and is constantly updated to ensure this.
Qantara focuses on the symbolic aspects of this heritage, comprising around 1500 entries that include sites, monuments, and objects dating from the end of Late Antiquity to the eighteenth century. It highlights similarities and relationships and focuses on the links between and the circulation of materials, forms, techniques, and ideas within the Mediterranean world.
This transversal analysis has been coordinated by a team of over 200 historians, researchers, and curators; all are experts in Islamic arts, the European Middle Ages, and in particular, the principle regions of North–South interchange, like Spain, France, Sicily and Italy, and Greece and the Balkans.
The Qantara project is a testament to the rich interchange in this geo-cultural region. These exchanges went beyond historical constraints and created links (in Arabic: Qantara) between the forms and a shared awareness, and even a shared identity.
Qantara comprises an Internet site, a book, and an itinerant multimedia exhibition, and is presented in four languages. The project provides the general public with a new perspective on history—that of a material and artistic heritage—, which reaches beyond the historical antagonism between the Muslims and Christians, and transcends the differences between East and West.