World Heritage Sites: Africa is made up of 20 sub-collections and more than 57,000 objects. Selected sub-collections include the Heinz Rüther Collection from the University of Cape Town, the Kilwa Archive from the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA), and the Smithsonian Heritage Collection. World Heritage Sites: Africa links visual, contextual, and spatial documentation of African heritage sites.

The collection includes photographs, 3D models, GIS data, site plans, aerial and satellite photography, images of rock art, excavation reports, manuscripts, traveler's accounts, historical and antiquarian maps, books, articles, and other scholarly research.

The materials in World Heritage Sites: Africa serve researchers in African studies, anthropology, archaeology, architecture, art history, Diaspora studies, folklore and literature, geography, and history, as well as those focused on geomatics, advanced visual and spatial technologies, historic preservation, and urban planning.

The collection is also a tool for museums, libraries, NGOs, and government organizations that manage or oversee cultural heritage sites, as well as for experts and professionals engaged in the conservation and management of such sites.

Collection Background

World Heritage Sites: Africa was originally produced by Aluka, an international, collaborative initiative formed to build an online digital library of scholarly resources from and about Africa. In 2008, Aluka became part of JSTOR, with World Heritage Sites: Africa now hosted on JSTOR's platform. The name “Aluka” was derived from a Zulu word meaning “to weave,” reflecting its original commitment to connecting resources and scholars from around the world.  

Foundation funding for Aluka has come from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Arcadia Fund.