Bye, Bye DiGA: Sarah leaves the Team

Before anyone assumes that the project is already over, I should be clear: the DiGA project still runs for a few months, until the beginning of 2024. Nevertheless, it’s already time for the first farewell. I have been a member of the team from the very beginning in the position of student research assistant and I will be leaving the project at the end of August. It is difficult for me to say goodbye, because I have grown very fond of DiGA.

Screenshot from the last online team meeting with me as a team member.
Last online meeting with the whole team in August 2023

I am using this blog post to say goodbye and thank the DiGA team. I have always felt like a full member of the team, despite my comparatively low working hours. Regardless of which scientific qualifications I have or don‘t have (yet!), I was included in every decision, asked for my opinion and trusted with a wide range of tasks. Some of these were perhaps beyond the purview of a student assistant‘s traditional expertise and I am grateful to Jessie and Frederik, project coordinators and to Serena and Cristiano, project researchers, for their confidence in me and for treating me as their colleague. I have taken a lot with me over the last two and a half years. Both about the practical aspect of working in an international project and about the study of South Asian religions. Therefore, I am happy and pleased that I had the opportunity to work in a project which also fell into my personal area of interest.

Time flies – First online team meeting in June 2021

As a religious studies student with a social science focus on Buddhist religions, I was able to gain completely different insights of the topic. The individual relevance of the digitisation of artefacts or the historical developments of Pakistan in relation to the regional Buddhist past and today’s socio-cultural and political handling of cultural heritage are just a few examples of areas that clearly sharpened my own study profile and at the same time aroused my private interest. Particularly interesting for me is the issue of preserving cultural heritage in an open access digital format which can be used for international research purposes and is therefore increasingly accessible. The digital copy of the object and its related metadata are clearly located in one place, standardized and thus comparable. Neither artefacts nor people need to travel. By contrast perhaps, the on-site environment plays a significant role in the overall perception of the original object. To me, a digitized object lends itself to a reflection around the relationship between religion, materiality and heritage, with increasing significance for the future.

My personal DiGA highlights were the kick-off workshop on site at CERES with our Pakistani colleague and key partner Dr. Abdul Samad, where I had the opportunity not only to get to know the research perspective of a German university, but also to personally experience the view on the topic of the partners in Pakistan and the planning of the team’s fieldtrips in the fall 2021 and Spring 2022. Even though I stayed in Germany during the field trips, the daily reports on our DiGA team WhatsApp group were exciting and informative. I felt involved even from a distance. Maybe I will get a chance in the future to visit the ruins of the monasteries with their stupas and reliefs on site in Pakistan and think back to my time in the DiGA project.

In addition, the more menial tasks, such as inserting metadata into the database on heidICON or providing organisational support and co-coordinating events, were always a welcome quiet balance to the rest of the work. Many thanks as well to Serena Autiero and Cristiano Moscatelli for their patience in teaching me how to deal with the data or to organize events in single steps and answering every single question. The funniest task I had in the entire project was correcting a digital copy of a catalogue of figures and shapes as preliminary work for the unified vocabulary. I corrected the Italian descriptions to see if they were copied correctly. However, I do not speak Italian myself. I bet Serena and Cristiano would have had a lot of fun listening to me reading each description out loud. I laughed out loud at some points. 

I am not leaving the team entirely voluntarily. I am finishing my Master’s degree in Religious Studies at the beginning of October and with a new job waiting after graduation, I unfortunately have to let my contract expire now. But every end is also a beginning.

As far as I can, I will keep up to date with the important milestones until the end of the project, like for example the compilation of the database in heidICON. And I‘ll stay close to the team: Jessie and Frederik have accepted to be my “master parents” and will have the opportunity to read and correct my thesis, due in October. Of course it‘s on a Buddhist topic that also deals with the digital world, although unfortunately not in the geographical area of DiGA. I wish the DiGA team all the best and much success in the final steps of the project!

Now let me say: Goodbye! And with this let me share with you my favourite object from the so far digitized and catalogued collection: An ichthyocentaur – First of all, I think an ichthyocentaur has a very interesting iconography. A human torso, the front part of a horse and in addition a rear part of a fish. Also, for me, it shows the character of Gandharan artefacts: Greek mythology figures as decorative elements in Buddhist architecture.


Cite this blog post
sarahrautert (2023, August 31). Bye, Bye DiGA: Sarah leaves the Team. Digitization of Gandharan Artefacts. Retrieved June 13, 2024, from

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