The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced $14.8 million in grants to support 253 humanities projects in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. An additional $47.5 million was awarded to fund 55 state humanities council partners.

“From cutting-edge digital projects to the painstaking practice of traditional scholarly research, these new NEH grants represent the humanities at its most vital and creative,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “These projects will shed new light on age-old questions, safeguard our cultural heritage, and expand educational opportunities in classrooms nationwide.”

Many of the projects apply new technologies and digital methods to innovative humanities research and public programs, such as the development of computer-based techniques to read the lost scrolls of the library at Herculaneum, a collection of hitherto undecipherable papyrus scrolls that were carbonized during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. NEH Digital Projects for the Public grants will support several efforts that employ augmented or virtual reality to simulate immersive encounters with historic sites and events. Funded projects include the design of a virtual-reality game that would let users explore the ancient Pueblo site of Mesa Verde and a multimedia recreation of a 1960 Martin Luther King Jr. speech. Another grant will digitally replicate the acoustics of historic structures, including a legendary Nashville Music Row studio and a 3,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site in Peru, to establish protocols for preserving the aural heritage of culturally significant sites.

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