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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

Georgopoulos A. a , Ioannidis Ch.\ Makris G.N. C , Karkanis M. d , Uiopoulou Ch. d
a Prof., Lab. of Photogrammetry, National Technical University of Athens, Greece - drag@central.ntua.gr
b Ass. Prof, Lab. of Photogrammetry. National Technical University of Athens
c Lab of General Geodesy, National Technical University of Athens
d Surveying Engineer, Post-graduate Student, National Technical University of Athens
Commission VI, WG VI/4
KEYWORDS: Spatial Information Science, Architecture, Cultural Heritage, Architectural Heritage Conservation, Photographic
Recording & Documentation, Thematic Databases, GIS
For the thorough geometric documentation of the Katholikon of the Daphni Monastery in Athens, the compilation of a thematic
database of large scale was also specified. A database with content of such detail was compiled for the first time. The contents of the
database and the various records of qualitative information were formed with the help of specialized experts and in cooperation of
the interested users.
The information management was carried out with the help of AutoCAD Map 2000i® software in combination with Microsoft
Access, based on several criteria. Modern technology and the evolution of GIS allow today the fast and systematic recording of such
information, but also their recover at will. On the other hand the possibility for direct connection of these pieces of information to
the geometric position of the various objects in 3D space is possible.
The database design is very important, because it will allow for the various interrelations of the data to be determined and exploited
to the full. The database of such a large scale was set up referencing every brick and every stone on the monument’s surface. The
various tables were of course interrelated in such a way as to bring out the logic which should be valid when monuments like that are
being studied. The database was materialized in a way that the information and properties of all parts of the monument may be
interrelated, but also absolutely related to the monument’s space. While designing the database a close cooperation was necessary
with the end users. In this paper all considerations and decisions taken for the compilation of such a database are presented and
For restoration purposes or significant interventions on large
monuments, such as buildings, fortification walls, castles etc,
that have been damaged due to natural (ie. earthquakes)
disasters or human activities through time, it is absolutely
necessary that a detailed and complete geometric
documentation should be precedent. The completeness, the
efficient use of the products and the visualization methods used
for the documentation influence not only the compilation
procedure of the restoration studies but in many cases their
results also (loannidis et al, 1999).
During the recent years under the term ‘geometric
documentation’ we do not mean simply the survey (with
combination of photogrammetric, field surveying and other
methods) and the production of 2D digital drawings or 3D
modeling, but also the development of a GIS, which will
combine the geometric information with quality characteristics
that are stored in an internal or even external database. Thus, a
multi-level and multi-purpose documentation useful for a range
of tasks varying from the simple geometric recording up to the
development of a decision making systems is achieved. Such
examples of IS can be found in many relevant applications
(Ioannidis et al, 1992; Cooper et al, 1994; Smars, 2001).
Especially for interventions on significant monuments, that
constitute treasures of the global cultural heritage, the
development of an IS is more than necessary.
Such a monument, which is internationally protected by
UNESCO, is the Dafni Monastery. It is one of the two
remaining today excellent specimens of the culmination of
Byzantine architecture (Figure 1). It was built in the 11 th
century and is situated in the southeastern part of Attica near
Athens. The whole monastery extends on an area of 0.7
hectares and in the center of that area lies the majestic central
church, the Katholikon. In essence it is a cross-domed octagon
type of church extending approximately 25x15 m 2 and 20 m in
height. The Monastery is considered to be the Parthenon of the
Byzantine era, with extraordinary mosaics at the interior of the
The strong earthquake of 7 th September 1999 caused severe
damage to the Katholikon and the rest of the buildings of the
monastery. The Ministry of Culture immediately decided to
take strong measures in order to protect the monument. Before
any static or structural interventions a detailed geometric
documentation of the monument was decided. The Laboratory
of Photogrammetry of NTUA undertook this task. The
restitution of the Katholikon includes:
• vector and raster (ortho-photomosaics) products for 5
horizontal and 20 vertical (longitudinal and transverse)
sections and for all the external facades at a scale of 1:25 and
• orthoimages of all the mosaics at a scale of 1:5.
One of the project’s requirements was to create a database
suitable to record and manage all pertinent information
concerning the constructional elements recorded in the