The digital “Monuments Men” are fighting the devastation of ISIS

There are days when Ross Davison feels as if people just aren’t taking him seriously. The other day he was supposed to explain to a couple of guys what the future of their jobs is going to look like. It was a workshop in Indiana. There were students: engineers, historians, archaeologists—and Davison, a 26-year-old surfer-boy from Santa Cruz who only just graduated from university. One of those smartasses who studied something quirky with underwater-measurement.

“When we first met, they were so sure that I didn’t have the slightest idea about what work really is“, he remembers. But those experts, they underestimated their teacher. Not for nothing does Davison offer his classes in Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan: there, people yearn to learn what he knows. His last lecture in Pakistan was packed, 30 people squeezed into the classroom.

Most of them were researchers from the region, students, and activists. People who know the place, locals. “They couldn’t wait to use the tools I showed them,” says Davison. “One student proposed that we should secure an archaeological excavation site right away. The place is controlled by militias of the fundamentalist Taliban almost all year round.”

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