Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Cultural Resources Management Through the Application of Ground-Based & Satellite Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems: A New Digital Cultural World

The current pressure applied by large construction works, the increase of tourist industry, the requirements for a different city planning and a sustainable development, together with the need of expanding the communication networks, coupled to the new advances of information technologies, the need of dissemination of information and protection of cultural heritage has altered the profile of cultural resources management. Socio-economic growth and development has been re-defined through the parallel preservation of cultural resources, which together with the natural resources constitute the continuum of our environmental context. The turning of the century and the millennium is mostly characterized by the exponential creation of digital data that have a major impact in all sectors of the society. Culture is also one of them. On the other hand, cultural resources need a special approach as they belong to a fragile boundary that distinguishes technology from art, development from preservation, digital information from architectural monuments. Although the above fields may involve certain contradictions, it is possible to co-exist in harmony and in favor of each other. Geophysical prospection, satellite remote sensing and GIS can be considered as important modules for acquiring digital information regarding the cultural topography and landscape. Geophysical prospection techniques constitute a valuable tool in the mapping and management of archaeological sites during the course of large development works. Aerial and satellite images can contribute to the detection of new archaeological sites and the outline of the protection zone of known archaeological regions. The recent developments in satellite remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems (G.I.S.) have created new standards to both historical and archaeological research and the management and protection of cultural and natural resources. Innovative satellite recording systems of high spatial and spectral resolution, along with the use of high accuracy Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and enhanced image processing systems offer great possibilities in the mapping of archaeological sites. In addition, the combination of the above technologies with other digital databases, which contain archaeological and environmental information, and with socio-economic models has direct consequences to our knowledge of the use of cultural space in antiquity as well as to the management policies of archaeological sites today. The above manifest the use of new remote sensing (RS) and information technologies (IT) in the preservation, conservation and cultural resources management (CRM). The final products of this approach may be accessible to the interested parties through the WEB, assisting the planning and state authorities, supporting the local and regional growth, enhancing the tourist and cultural industry and offering a multidimensional and integrated solution to a number of problems encountered in the management of cultural heritage. Examples will be drawn from various parts of the world, with emphasis in the Mediterranean and the Aegean region, to indicate the potential use and contribution of geophysical mapping, satellite remote sensing and GIS in particular applications, such as the outline of the limits of archaeological sites and the mapping of the subsurface relics, the reconstruction and modelling of the ancient settlement patterns (archaeological risk areas) and the development of GIS for the management of archaeological monuments (protection zones, archaeological parks, conservation risk areas).

  • Apostolos Sarris